Sunday, June 23, 2013

JUNE 22, 2013

     The federal government, unsurprisingly, has filed charges against Edward Snowden, who leaked documents about top-secret surveillance to the press. He is charged, the Washington Post says, with theft and "unauthorized communication of national defense information" and "willful communication of classified intelligence to an unauthorized person."  These charges were brought under the Espionage Act, passed in 1917, the World War I era.

     I guess he did it;
 he certainly hasn't denied it;  he says he did it.  But there is a moral question here--if you believe your country is doing something profoundly wrong, as Snowden apparently believed the government's massive surveillance of its own citizens was, do you have a moral obligation to do something about it?  The question has been answered "yes' by protesters against repressive regimes of the past, like Hitler's Germany or the old Soviet Union.  Daniel Ellsberg answered "yes" during the Vietnam War when he released the Pentagon Papers.

     Is the United States wrong
to secretly surveil its citizens?  I'm not sure.  The government probably does have secrets it needs to keep secret, but the idea of some government snoop I've never met secretly tapping my phone is, to me at least, offensive.

     So I have
some sympathy for Snowden.  Wrong?  Maybe.  But good motives?




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