Hero or Traitor?
That is the current debate over Edward Snowden, computer consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton, a contractor for the National Security Agency, who leaked details of the top secret U.S. surveillance programs on Sunday.
Here is a quick background on the surveillance programs that was begun under the George W. Bush administration in response to post-Sept. 11 terrorist attacks:
The NSA has been collecting phone records of millions of Americans each day and creating a database to house and archive with hopes of learning whether terror suspects have been in contact with people in the U.S. to prevent another attack on American soil. While the NSA claims they do not actually listen to the conversations it does bring up serious privacy concerns for Americans making what they think are private phone calls each and every day.
In addition to the collecting of phone records, the NSA had also initiated an Internet scouring program, called PRISM, which allows the NSA and FBI to directly work with Internet companies to gather all Internet usage of Americans. Yes, what you are thinking is correct, all your audio, video, photographs, websites visited, emails, and searches are tracked and monitored for suspicious behavior that could resemble terrorist activity, beginning overseas.
Both programs bring about important and serious concerns for the American people regarding their privacy while living in this country. This is what compelled Edward Snowden, a 29 year old high school dropout who left a $200k consulting job and comfortable life in Hawaii to go away in hiding in Hong Kong after leaking the details and information behind these top secret surveillance programs.
So that begs the question, is Snowden a hero or traitor. Many people think that what he did was an incredibly courageous and heroic act by standing up to the U.S. Government, where in his words they “granted themselves power they are not entitled to. There is no public oversight. The result is people like myself have the latitude to go further than they are allowed to.” In other words he is stating that without strict public oversight a person like himself working for the NSA can essentially have complete access to the personal and private phone and internet records of Americans and do what they please with it.
Then there are many people who think what Snowden did has put more Americans in danger of further terrorist attacks and by leaking this information should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of traitorous activity. The NSA and numerous Representatives of the U.S. Government are claiming that there is significant oversight of both programs and the American Government is not listening to the phone calls and reading the emails of the American people.
Ultimately the American people have to come to their own opinion of how they view Edward Snowden. Do you want to live in a country where your government can simply overstep privacy boundaries and intercept your private phone conversations and internet activity. Essentially living in a world where everything you did is recorded and listened to by an Edward Snowden. Or do you accept the fact that unfortunately we live in an unsafe world. There are people out there who want to do harm to the United States, and if it takes the Government to listen to phone conversations and monitor internet activity to ensure another terrorist attack does not happen on American soil, than concern over your own phone records and internet activity should not be a greater concern than your personal safety and the safety of the American people.
This is the true debate over the recent Snowden leak, do the founding principles of our great country outweigh the ultimate safety from a real and dangerous threat in the world today.
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