Snowden Deserves Avalanche of Justice for Betraying America

Like him or loathe him, many people have strongly held views about former government contractor Edward Snowden, who spilled some of America’s most sensitive national security secrets to the world – including to our enemies.

This is evidenced by various national polls, an average of which show a nation somewhat divided about Snowden.

  • Is he a traitor, a hero, a martyr, or something else?

What’s evident is that Snowden committed an unlawful and egregious act by leaking highly classified information to The Guardian of Great Britain as well as to the Washington Post. This appears to be a crime against America, regardless of what one thinks about the merits and constitutionality of the U.S. Government’s clandestine surveillance program.

Suspect Journalism?

Moreover, it’s suspect that Snowden chose to unlawfully disclose the top-secret information to Glenn Greenwald, a so-called advocacy journalist at The Guardian.

Greenwald is widely known for championing the protection of privacy rights. He has written books highly critical of the U.S. Government and the post-9/11 period of proactive national security measures to prevent another massive terrorist attack — one which may involve setting off a crude nuclear device, a “dirty bomb” or chemical/biological weapons in a U.S. city or major population center.

Therefore, such an outspoken advocacy journalist as Greenwald may not be the most objective source for reporting this story. This is exactly why Snowden hand picked him.

Advocacy journalism is usually neither fair nor objective. To the contrary, what Snowden leaked to Greenwald was akin to giving candy to a baby.

  • Should this raise questions about whether Greenwald is accurately reporting all the facts?

Interestingly, The Guardian has been significantly expanding its global operations, which includes a greater reporting presence in America. Coincidentally, the Snowden “bomb shell” fits nicely into the news organization’s current strategic operating plans by elevating its status on an international stage.

Violating a Sacred Trust

What matters most here is that Snowden appears to have violating the Espionage Act and/or other U.S. laws. Additionally, he violated a sacred trust with America by “sucker punching” the government and then stabbing it in the back.

Regardless, Snowden is being praised by some for outing Uncle Sam. This is despite Snowden’s self-admission that he’s the leaker.

This is a self-admission which, in effect, clearly shows that Snowden is an insidious lawbreaker who — NSA and DOJ officials say — badly damaged U.S. national security.

While I’m no constitutional law professor – as President Obama used to be — it appears that Snowden’s unlawful actions may indeed be tantamount to treason. Therefore, a fitting punishment might well be life in prison, if legally applicable.

Remember, as Snowden admitted, he knew the risks. He knew the high stakes.

Facing Justice

Therefore, Snowden should face the American justice system because only a U.S. court can provide any finality about the illegality of his actions.

Attorney General Eric Holder echoed these sentiments:

  • “The national security of the United States has been damaged as a result of those leaks,” Holder said Friday.
  • “The safety of the American people [and] the safety of people who reside in allied nations have been put at risk as a result of these leaks.”

When criminals rob a bank they don’t announce to the world that they did it. Only a real narcissist would shine the spotlight upon himself in such a situation.

Snowden – being an intelligent guy – also knows his story has the potential to net him countless millions of dollars via a book deal, movie rights, public appearances, etc. Perhaps living in Hawaii on a $200,000 annual salary with a poll dancer for a girlfriend just wasn’t good enough for him.

  • Is it at least plausible that part of Snowden’s motivation for the crime included subsequent fame and fortune?

Some believe that Snowden, if captured and extradited, should appear before a U.S. military court, like Bradley Manning in the current WikiLeaks case.

Others believe Snowden has outsmarted us by fleeing the country and potentially taking refuge in China or Russia.

But the arms of U.S. justice have a long reach. Let’s recall that we found Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden and countless other enemies of America despite their planned efforts to elude capture.

So what do you think:

  • Does Snowden deserve to feel the full weight of the U.S. justice system?
  • If captured, should he be tried in a U.S. military court as an enemy combatant?

Remember, Snowden willfully sold out his own country to its geopolitical enemies, including global terrorists hell bent on destroying America.

Snowden has caused irrevocable harm to our nation, according to top officials of the U.S. intelligence community.

That sure sounds like espionage and treason to me.


Also check out:
Privacy vs. National Security: Where Should Gov Draw the Line in the Fight Against Terrorism?

* All views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author only.

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Peter Sperry

I rate him as neither hero nor traitor but somewhere between a confused narcissist and a low grade felon. A 25 year sentence, eligible for parole in 15, would be an adequate punishment. What he did was criminal and deserves punishment but is not really all that serious an attack on the nation. Government and nation are not synonymous. Snowdon betrayed the former, whether in misguided defense of the latter or simply seeking celebrity is immaterial. It was a crime and we punish crimes. But we do so appropriately and not excessively.

We also must not lose sight of the fact the program he exposed clearly needs greater oversight and accountability. I very reluctantly concede that big data surveillance may be a necessary evil, acceptable in times of extreme danger. But President Obama just informed the nation the danger is past. And it is time to wind down the war on terror. Part of the winding down process should include making these surveillance programs more transparent and accountable.

Henry Brown

Like Peter don’t believe that Mr. Snowden is a traitor, and probably not a hero IMO that would be like classifying Mr Ellsberg, of Pentagon Papers fame as a hero. Not sure I would go so far even to classify him as a low grade felon. Daniel Ellsberg, although arrested for “leaking” the Pentagon Papers was cleared of all charges in 1973(note I did not say aquitted).

I am not convinced that bringing activity, which IMO needs a whole lot of transparency, to the attention of the public is any kind of significant crime. (unlike wiki-leaks where some amount of risk was applied to active members of our Foreign Service) Don’t believe that exposing stupidity should be a crime, regardless of the classification that the government puts on the information

Unlike Peter I do not concede that meta-data surveillance is either necessary or effective. And without a whole lot of transparency not sure that I can be convinced.

Related Mr. Clapper claims that it is going to take 10 days to find out which terrorist activity was prevented by either PRISM or meta-data surveillance. This is the same person who said “he had given the “least untruthful” answer possible…” when discussing this issue with congress…

David B. Grinberg

Peter: first, happy Father Day, sir. Thanks very much, as always, for your sharing comments on this important issue. A few thoughts:

  • While you admit he committed a “criminal” act, Peter, how can you call him a “low grade felon”? I think violating U.S. national security — including possibly The Espionage Act and other federal laws — is legally and morally much more than a low-grade felony.
  • At least you admit “it’s a crime and we punish crimes” — which is more rational than some folks who think he’s a hero.
  • …”not really all that serious an attack on the nation“? By it’s very nature, violating national security is attacking our nation, especially because Snowden is providing our enemies with top-secret information about U.S. intelligence gathering techniques and possibly worse. It’s bad enough that China is reportedly hacking into sensitive intelligence and military information at will on U.S. government websites and those of federal contractors. Do we really need an American helping China in their nefarious acts of “cyber war”? Moreover, who knows what other top secret intelligence info Snowden may be providing to the communist Chinese gov to use against America?
  • “…the program he exposed clearly needs greater oversight and accountability.” Well, the program did have the oversight of the U.S. Congress, which is a rare bipartisan display of support with Ds and Rs coming out to publicly defend it. Further, I still haven’t heard anywhere about one single American who had their privacy right seriously violated or compromised over the seven years the program was reportedly in existence.

  • I agree with you that “big data surveillance may be a necessary evil, acceptable in times of extreme danger.” Well, we are in a war on terrorism with our homeland being attacked and imminent deadly terrorist plots being foiled with the help of these surveillance programs. I’m not sure how much more dangerous you think the situations needs to get?
  • I respectfully disagree that “it’s time to wind down in the war on terror” — that’s what the terrorists want. For America, to stop proactively thwarting their deadly plans to kill innocent Americans. To the contrary, we need to remain proactive to prevent more terrorism because the terrorists 1) are not going away, and 2) continually coming up with new murderous techniques to catch us off guard, like on 9/11. America cannot afford to let our military and intelligence guard down until the next massive attack on the homeland.
David B. Grinberg

Henry, happy Father’s Day and thanks for your comments on this significant national security issue. A nfew thoughts:

  • I don’t understand why more people don’t consider Snowden a traitor. He sold out America to our global enemies, including dangerous terrorists groups staging murderous plots against us. For all we know, Snowden will defect to China or Russia (even he hasn’t already) and provide those govs with more dangerous and damaging intel to hurt America. The man is surely a “Benedict Arnold”.
  • Regarding criminality generally, and Snowden’s crimes in particular, please see my comments below to Peter.
  • You define breaking the law in this instance with “exposing stupidity” but is that really the public’s call to make? We don’t have all the specific details on the extent and scale of damage done. Moreover, generally speaking, I don’t think it’s stupid for our gov to use surveillance and intel gathering techniques to prevent another large terrorist attack on the homeland. The bi-partsan membership of the Congressional Select Committee on Intelligence certainly does not agree that these programs are stupid.
  • Regarding Clapper, his main job is to protect the national from harm via intelligence gathering to proactively prevent more terrorism on the homeland. Thus, he’s in a “catch 22” situation between transparency and secrecy. However, the intelligence community must act is secrecy to get the job done. Does the public really need to know about the most sensitive top-secret classified info and intel gathering methods to protect us? If the overwhelming majority of Ds and Rs in Congress agree about these programs and conduct proper oversight, then that’s good enough for me. And having an independent court review and reauthorize the phone meta data gathering every three-months sounds like tight oversight to me.
  • Lastly, both Presidents Bush and Obama have successfully prevented any wide-scale terrorist attacks against America similar or worse than 9/11 for over a decade now. That’s a record of success, IMO: the so-called proof is in the pudding, as they say.
Henry Brown


You base your statement “He Sold out america to our global enemies” on what? The fact that he revealed that the US government spied on everyone including their own citizens. I don’t think you give our enemies enough credit.

Yes he might defect to China or Russia or he might defect to Iceland or Ecuador or he might not defect at all would suggest that we wait until he has defected and not rely on the media to tell us what is going to happen (boston bombing and arabs) …

Guess we will have to respectfully agree to disagree on whether “spying on americans” is necessary to protect us from this all powerful enemy.

Going to use the same logic that you are using (in a sorted convulted way) “Afgans haven’t killed as many americans because we invaded their country some 10 years ago. And we sure limited the bloodshed and made lifetime friends of the Iraq nation because we killed their dictator again over 10 years ago

I can’t visualize our justice system not being open enough to tell someone in court documents that we conducted a search of joe smith’s facebook postings in order to verify he was a criminal/terrorists and we have now arrested him. I understand that it probably won’t be “broadcast” on the evening news the day that the judge signed it but… I might be wrong but I believe that when the police/FBI request a search warrent to access a criminal data it is part of the court record and can/will be used in both the prosecution and defense.

I would offer that I would be no more dead if killed by a terrorist who wanted to make a statement or some whaco who decided it would best if he killed me so I could not identify him as the person who robbed me.

I personally have very little faith in the ability of congress to do much of anything, little own protect the american citizens from people who might want to do them harm. Don’t believe that it was congress who first identified an IRS branch going to some extremes to ensure that some political action committees were not getting themselves declared tax-exempt organizations and still be able to spout off political stuff. And I am absolutly certain that I/we don’t want to put the fox in charge of protecting the hen house and making sure every one plays by the rules. which is what putting NSA in charge of spying does. (Read the stories about J. Edgar Hoover and his escapades regarding what he perceived to be enemies) And Mr. Clapper’s response “this is only a little lie” was to the oversight committee. And the FISA court oversight ????

All this is NOT new! Just wish we as a society would perhaps learn from history… Maybe the phrase Those who don’t know their history are doomed to repeat it might be appropriate

I noticed yesterday that any number of the spinners are now trying to spin the number of americans who were spied on is extremely small, just collateral damage to protect the good/safety of the majority…

And a happy Father’s Day to you Sir!

David B. Grinberg

CNET News and other media outlets report:

NSA probed fewer than 300 phone numbers in 2012
[out of billions]

  • “The U.S. government searched for detailed information on calls involving fewer than 300 phone numbers last year, according to an unclassified document circulated Saturday.”
  • “The paper said such searches — part of two controversial U.S. intelligence gathering programs — led to two men allegedly plotting to attack New York City’s subway system, Reuters reported.”
  • “The data, which the Associated Press reported is destroyed every five years, thwarted terrorist plots in the U.S. and more than 20 other countries.”
  • “U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, explained how the program worked without violating individuals’ civil rights.”
  • “We take the business records by a court order, and it’s just phone numbers — no names, no addresses — put it in a lock box,” Rogers told CBS News’ “Face The Nation.”
  • “And if they get a foreign terrorist overseas that’s dialing in to the United Sates, they take that phone number… they plug it into this big pile, if you will, of just phone numbers — it’s like a phonebook without any names and any addresses with it — to see if there’s a connection, a foreign terrorist connection to the United States.”
  • “When a number comes out of that lock box, it’s just a phone number — no names, no addresses,” he continued. “If they think that’s relevant to their counterterrorism investigation, they give that to the FBI. Then upon the FBI has to go out and meet all the legal standards to even get whose phone number that is.”
David B. Grinberg

FYI – Government Executive reports:

Lawmakers Want More Oversight of Security Clearances

  • “A bipartisan chorus of lawmakers criticized the federal government’s lack of standards and oversight of government-issued security clearances at a hearing held Thursday in light of Edward Snowden’s leak of sensitive information.”

  • “The hearing — held jointly by Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittees on the federal workforce and contracting oversight — focused on a revolving fund used to conduct investigations and the range of approaches used for clearance investigations.”

  • “The George W. Bush administration created the Performance Accountability Council in 2008 to attempt to clarify what a proper investigation should look like, but “there’s still work to do,” Associate Director of the Federal Investigative Service Merton Miller conceded.”

  • GAO has estimated that 87 percent of investigations conducted for the Defense Department were incomplete.” [bold added for emphasis]