Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Snowden's Situation Shows the Tension Between Exercising Freedoms and Willful Stupidity

...and he's no Thomas Drake. In 2006 Mr. Drake, a high-level
NSA executive (contrasted to Snowden's low-level sub-contractor
status) became a whistleblower revealing his deep misgivings
about aspects of the NSA's policies/practices, particularly
regarding incompetence, waste, fraud and abuse. A 60 Minutes
CBS interview in 2011 of Mr. Drake by Scott Pelley revealed the
many operational flaws hobbling the NSA's effectiveness--
and its fairness. A promising electronic surveillance program
called Thin Thread was nixed by General Michael Hayden, a
man known for his many mistakes, in favor of Trailblazer.
Trailblazer was an inaccurate, $1.2 billion money-wasting
program which didn't warn the U.S. in time about 911 terror
threats. Drake objected to warrantless wiretapping which then
became NSA policy, clearly unconstitutional.

Mr. Drake attempted to share his concerns internally at NSA,
by the book, but  to no avail. Then he began dealing with the
press; later, he contacted the Government Accountability
Project, which defends whistleblowers. He (of course)
lost his job and retirement benefits, was indicted by the
government, but never left the U.S. ...and kept all his
freedoms, according to an interview he gave the
New York Times just a few days ago.

Then there's Snowden, relatively young and inexperienced,
a high-school and college dropout, who obviously didn't do
much research before embarking on his life-changing agenda.
Did he research which countries have/don't have extradition
treaties with the U.S.? Did he contact the Government
Accountability Project? Did he remain in the U.S. to stand
and fight? I think "no" answers all.

There will always be a dynamic tension between exercising
one's freedoms and willfull stupidity. Snowden has chosen
the latter, and now is a man without a country, foreshadowed
fictionally in a short story and movie long before.

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