Treason For Revealing a Legal Program That Everyone Already Knows About

A shorter follow-up on surveillance and Snowden.

Jedi mind tricks only work on the weak-minded. So all the pundits who are saying that Snowden should be arrested and thrown in jail forever and ever for committing treason but who are also telling us that we already knew all this, that everything he revealed is totally legal, completely approved by transparent democratic processes, not at all an intrusion into privacy, only involves foreign terrorists, and much better than ‘mass roundups of ethnic or religious groups’, which is what we’d have to do instead, pull the other one. If all that’s true, in what sense did Snowden do anything wrong? Revealed a well-known practice that’s completely legal and totally subject to accountable review by both the legislature and judiciary: when did that become illegal or unethical? To hear the faux-bored American punditry tell it, Snowden didn’t do anything besides publish the latest schedule of business deductions or the regulations for ADA-compliant toilet stalls. But he’s a traitor anyway for some reason or other.

Either the guy revealed something that really was a secret, in which case he arguably has a point that we deserve to know about it, or he just affirmed a well-understood fact and it’s no big deal. The only way to thread the needle that allows you to condemn Snowden and yet maintain that there’s nothing to see here, and it may well be what some of the pundits like Miller and Brooks and Toobin are thinking, is that these were well-understood facts by the elites but that Snowden may have let it slip out to the proles. So what he’s being accused of is class treason, not national treason. Since the NYT and other mainstream media outlets have been spending so much time assuring us that antagonistic states like Iran and China and militant Islamist movements are highly skilled in hacking and using online communication, surely they don’t think that any of this is a secret to the “enemy”, I hope?

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2 Responses to Treason For Revealing a Legal Program That Everyone Already Knows About

  1. Barry says:

    “So what he’s being accused of is class treason, not national treason. ”

    This is pretty much proven by the fact that they don’t harsh on elite-supported leaks and leakers.

  2. Jonathan Birge says:

    I’m not sure where I stand on whether or not this guy is a hero or doing more harm than good, or even on whether the NSA program is valid, but one thing I do know is that your logic is wrong. You’re making a completely false dichotomy, assuming that if something is legal, it can’t be secret. There are plenty of legal secret programs. The reason they are secret is because they become less effective when a potential enemy finds out about them. I’m sure sometimes things are classified and, if not because, they are illegal, but it’s ludicrous to suggest that there are no legitimate state secrets. There are plenty of valid reasons to question the revealed programs, but I’m afraid you’ll have to actually learn about them and do some critical thinking. There are no easy home runs based on binary logic, Tim.

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