Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Kevin Drum on What to Think about Snowden

As usual, I agree with Drum. Snowden probably deserves to be prosecuted...but judiciously. Which is to say, among other things: not for espionage. However what he did probably needed to be done in some way or other, else we'd have continued to be in the dark about government surveillance.

I haven't paid as much attention as I should have to the case, but that's basically my tentative view at present.

It is weird, of course, to think that he did a good thing but still deserves prosecution. I'm not sure how to resolve the tension...but, then, neither was Thoreau, and neither was MLK...


Blogger The Mystic said...

Not to flood your blog with my posts, but I'm still not sure what we learned specifically because of Snowden. I refer you to an article to which you yourself linked and which Drum wrote:

I'm not following this story real closely largely because I have yet to read anything that seems to me even a little revelatory. What do you think is the most significant piece of information you've learned thanks to Snowden's actions? How has he brought us out of the dark?

This all seems to me a crowd of observers angry that the chess player they've elected to play the game won't describe out loud, to them and to the opposition, the reasoning for his maneuvers. Furthermore, we have clear conditions that we've agreed upon to constrain the scope of these maneuvers, and it doesn't seem the chess player has intentionally and/or purposefully strayed from those conditions.

Kinda stupid.

2:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In related news, how do you feel about Bradley Manning's sentencing? Sure, he broke his oath to his fellow troops, blah blah blah, and I suppose that's not nothing. But on the other hand, the sentencing simply seems to be a harsh warning that says something like: we, as a country, are less interested in truth and justice than we are keeping up the increasing shattered illusion that we're the eternal "good guys." Thoughts??

7:25 AM  
Anonymous Jimmy Doyle said...

Total sophistry. It's not a matter of 'liking the results' of what Snowden did. He has exposed a massive amount of state-sanctioned wrongdoing, ie in the sense of activity very clearly violating the fourth amendment. (Almost certainly what we know at this point is just the tip of a very large iceberg.) Releasing classified material can't be considered criminal *no matter what it is*. The whole argument is reminiscent of 'You've got to prosecute soldiers for disobeying even criminal orders because otherwise they'd be picking and choosing which orders to obey'. That's very clearly inconsistent with prosecuting soldiers for *obeying* criminal orders, as the US, surely rightly, did at Nuremberg.

Do you (or Drum or whoever) disagree that Snowden was being required by his job to collude in a massive amount of wrongdoing? If you don't, why on earth should he be prosecuted for refusing to go along with it and bringing it to the attention of the public? Don't say 'national security blah blah blah'. There is no generalised right to secrecy on the part of the security services that remains in force when secrecy is being used to facilitate massive wrongdoing. If you want to keep stuff secret, don't put your employees in a position where they're *morally required* to reveal it.

If the revelations really made it impossible for the security services to do their job and might well lead to the destruction of the US, that would be a different matter. But it's ludicrous to suggest that the Snowden case is like that.

9:54 PM  
Blogger pmm said...

Well, presumption of innocence requires proof beyond reasonable doubt that Snowden had other motives than whistleblowing. And while I know that whistleblowing law has specific exemptions "government security" secrets", that does not mean that it should. If Snowden does get convicted, a reasonably enlightened President would pardon him after a short imprisonment.

Yeah, not going to happen...

4:53 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

I don't know what to say about all this, in particular about the Mystic's query...

But, *pace* Thoreau and King, I have to agree with Jimmy... It just can't be right that we must/can prosecute someone for doing the right thing, can it? There just can't be *that* kind of separation between morality and the law...can there?

8:05 AM  

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