Edward Snowden

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Jeremy Sheehy Essay 2 4 November 2013 UCOR 101 Edward Snowden Traitor or Hero Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that Matter Martin Luther King Jr Just what is the role of a conscience individual when they discover a perceived injustice in a democratic society Democracies are one that allows eligible citizens to participate equally either directly or through elected representatives in the development and creation of laws It is then the responsibility of citizens to participate to ensure that their voice is heard Henry David Thoreau in his essay Civil Disobedience states That government is best which governs least Thoreau 305 Thoreau insists that government rarely proves useful and its power is derived from the majority because it is the strongest Thoreau also believed that a wise man will not leave justice to the chance of the majority vote A principled person must follow his conscience and wash his hands of injustice This is very similar to Lao Tzu s philosophy in the TAO When master governs the people are hardly aware the he exists Lao Tzu 206 A moral person must be prepared to be civilly disobedient and take a risk in the pursuit of justice even if it defies the law Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr is a successful example of how his civil disobedience and his public demonstrations ended public segregation in the United States This strongly correlates with Edward Snowden who uses passive resistance on the government by releasing confidential intelligence information Snowden s radical actions are a prime example of modern day civil disobedience His actions were not identical to that of Martin Luther King but provides an example of Thoreau s theory that one must stand up for justice Born in North Carolina in 1983 Edward Snowden worked for the National Security Agency NSA through a sub contractor Booz Allen During the first three months of his employment he began collecting top secret documents regarding the NSA s domestic surveillance programs Snowden found this personally disturbing and was compelled to start copying documents In them were detailed spying practices against American citizens This would be perceived as a contradiction to the Tao in that the master see things as they are without trying to control them Lao Tzu 208 The National Security Agency is responsible for collecting and analyzing foreign communication and signals in order to protect the United States government communications Once Snowden compiled data he took a factious leave of absence from the NSA due to a medical condition In May 2013 Snowden flew to Hong Kong where he remained On June 6 2013 the fallout began Edward Snowden leaked NSA documents to the Guardian and the Washington post regarding top secret government surveillance programs at a Hong Kong hotel Thoreau insists that a very few as heroes patriots martyrs reformers in the great sense serve and men serve the state with their consciences also and so necessarily resist it for the most part and they are commonly treated as enemies by it Thoreau 307 In the Letter from Birmingham Jail King reflects we had no alternative except to prepare for direct action whereby we present our case before the conscience of the local and national community Mindful of the difficulties involved we decided to undertake a process of self purification King 379 Snowden leaked information about two different NSA operations called PRISM This detailed US phone records to search for possible links to terrorists abroad and surveillance of online communications to and from foreign targets Snowden supplied detailed briefings of how the NSA s PRISM program retrieves information from prominent companies including Google Apple Microsoft and Face book to name a few This low level government contractor decided to leak the information to expose the abuse and to protect the public interest I m willing to sacrifice my former life because I can t in good conscience allow the US government to destroy privacy Internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they are secretly building Edward Snowden Thoughts from the Tao te ching where Lao Tzu states For every forces there is a counterforce Even well intended always rebounds upon oneself Lao Tzu 208 The United States government viewed this differently and federal prosecutors charge Snowden with theft of government property unauthorized communication of national defense information and willful communication of classified intelligence with a unauthorized person Edward Snowden Those charges fall under the Espionage Act The government views this leak as damaging to our national security and feels this gives terrorists a way to avoid further detection Thoreau thought let your life stop the injustice if injustice has a spring then perhaps you may consider whether the remedy will not be worse than the evil but if it is of such nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice then I say break the law Thoreau 312 Snowden left Hong Kong for Russia and Russia has denied the US request to extradite him Russia has granted him asylum for one year that allows him to live travel and work there He was also offered asylum in Venezuela Nicaragua and Bolivia Referring to the US Snowden stated I do not want to live in a society that does these sort of things I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded That is not something I am willing to support and live under Edward Snowden Social media has portrayed Snowden as a hero sacrificing himself to expose government snooping The guardian stated that he will go down as America s most consequential whistleblower I think most Americans don t want this type of surveillance and thousands of Americans have signed a petition to pardon him Adversely some feel that he gave an advantage to our enemies and Americans are now at risk This type of surveillance was key in keeping our nation safe from terrorist s attacks Snowden s leak has sparked a debate across the nation and internationally of disapproval and praise Snowden decided to become a whistleblower because he had lost faith in the internal mechanisms of the US government Snowden was criticized by the Obama administration stating that he should have taken his compliant to the NSA The Obama administration has protections for whistleblowers if they uncover corruption or inefficiency The system does not work Snowden stated You have wrong doing to those most responsible for it Pilkington Snowden felt that if he would have taken it to the proper authorities he would have been discredited and ruined and the information would have been buried forever Pilkington King contends that Through painful experience is that freedom is never given by the oppressor it must be demanded by the oppressed King 381 Edward Snowden is a true example of civil disobedience Snowden unlike Martin Luther King Jr risked his permanent freedom by violating current laws versus Martin Luther King who violated laws but spent less than one month in jail Being that this civil disobedient case was just uncovered it is difficult to determine whether Edward Snowden will go down as a traitor giving up the United States surveillance program or someone who had uncovered a corrupt government that was violating the fourth amendment to the constitution the right to privacy Works Cited Edward Snowden 2013 The Biography Channel website Nov 03 2013 06 47 Eyes on the Prize Awakenings 1954 56 Prod Henry Hampton PBS Video 2006 DVD Gray Kadee What Is the NSA Controversy and What Did Edward Snowden Leak BoomerangBeatBoomerangBeat Simplified News BoomerangBeat 17 July 2013 Web 03 Nov 2013 Jacobus Lee ed A World of Ideas Essential Readings for College Writers Bedford St Martins Boston New York 2010 Print King Martin Luther Letter from Birmingham Jail Jacobus 213 229 Lao Tzu Thoughts from the Tao Te Ching Jacobus 24 33 Thoreau Henry David Civil Disobedience Jacobus 177 197 Pilkington Ed Edward Snowden US Would Have Buried NSA Warnings Forever The Guardian 17 Oct 2013 Web 03 Nov 2013


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