Friday, January 3, 2014

Snowden, Defector

The editors at National Review respond to the New York Times' call for amnesty for NSA leaker Edward Snowden.

The New York Times has called for the U.S. government to offer amnesty to Edward Snowden, the NSA contractor who broke his oath to that same government and has severely damaged the work it does to keep the U.S. safe.

A tiny proportion of Snowden’s disclosures, if any at all, have concerned unequivocally illegal work by the U.S. government. Regarding the NSA’s infamous metadata program, the Times relies on a federal judge’s ruling that it is probably unconstitutional — but another federal judge has disagreed.

That metadata system is overseen by Congress and is regularly reviewed by a classified federal court.

It is possible the Supreme Court will strike down the program, but the constitutional precedent from 1974’s Smith v. Maryland regarding metadata is quite clear. The Times’ favored ruling, which argues that Smith has been invalidated by technological advances, is much less convincing, and in any case has to be heard by the nation’s highest court.

... What is most striking about Snowden’s leaks is the sheer amount of them that have nothing to do with Americans’ privacy at all. Snowden stole and has now helped publish documents that lay out the entirety of the U.S.’s classified budget, detail American-run intelligence programs abroad that have no effect on the privacy of those protected by our laws, and reveal the intelligence work of our allies, too. Regardless of the efficacy of the programs that may now be halted, exposing reams of data on the work of U.S. intelligence agencies sets their work back years, and leaves America less safe.

... Snowden hasn’t exposed clearly illegal work by the U.S. government that he couldn’t have shed light on or halted any other way. (He claims to have spoken to NSA superiors, which they deny, and that is just one of the possible avenues.) He should therefore be punished like anyone else who breaks his oath to keep classified information secret.

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

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