The story of Edward Snowden is well-known at this point and even now captured in a new Hollywood film. A concerned citizen gained knowledge to countless programs and activities by the United States government that violate the rights and privacy of American citizens everywhere. In leaking this information, he was forced to flee the country and leave his entire life behind.
The ongoing debate since has been whether or not he is a traitor, with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump believing that he is, and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton who wants to see him prosecuted. The political elite have been consistently opposed to the whistleblower, claiming he has damaged the ability of intelligence to protect Americans.
Do we sacrifice liberty for security? At what cost are we willing to be secure?
The post 9/11 narrative has consistently fed the notion that security and liberty cannot coexist, asserting that in order to make the world safe for democracy we have to eliminate freedom at home. In the years after the devastating terrorist attack, the surveillance state has been expanded a great deal. There has been an open expansion of power such as the USA PATRIOT Act, among the many other secret expansions that Snowden revealed.
Now a movement has started to officially pardon Edward Snowden and allow him to come home. With the support of the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch, a Pardon Snowden website has been launched. It lists a wide range of supporters from actors to journalists, as well as prominent political figures, film producers and directors.
It also has a petition for people to sign and join the push to get Snowden pardoned. But should you support it? Should you sign it?
When Snowden first had concerns about the actions of the government, he went through the proper channels to address them internally. His superiors failed to address his concerns, and the government later lied about him seeking to address the issues, until new documents proved that Snowden did try.
Is Edward Snowden a traitor?
In this context, it is important to understand what defines our government. We live in a republic governed by a Constitution. The Constitution provides the framework for the government and through the Bill of Rights, legal protections for the people.
Snowden’s leaks showed us that the Constitution was being violated in more ways than one by the government. It was taking on powers that were not properly authorized for the purpose of violating the rights of American citizens. Due process exists to protect citizens from being wrongfully targeted, but the programs that intercept and store data without a warrant bypass this.
If Edward Snowden is a traitor, the government is guilty of a worse crime. At this point, American citizens should be concerned regarding the society we have become. The government, with bipartisan support from the political elite, is violating our constitutional rights and then chasing those who sound the alarm out of the country.
Telling the truth is not an act of treason. The only traitors are those who have violated the legacy of freedom and liberty. It’s time to pardon Edward Snowden and let him come home.