All around America, the debate is raging as to how history should view Edward Snowden. Many people say he is a hero — that his actions, while technically in violation of current legislation, are actually in line with the obligations upon citizens set forth by the Constitution. Many go a step further and say the government is actually committing illegal acts via the PRISM and FISA programs. A smaller group, although no less vocal, say that Snowden is a traitor — that he is colluding with foreign governments and compromising our national security with his disclosures.
Seeing post after post, and comment after comment, on Facebook, Twitter, and yes, PolicyMic, got me wondering, "What did Barack Obama have to say about this topic back when he was trying to get elected?"
Thankfully, change.gov didn't remove any info from the Obama-Biden campaign platforms five years ago. Now, when you click that link, you are going to find many broken promises, but I am simply focusing on the whistleblower promises. Barack Obama promised:
"Protect Whistleblowers: Often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government is an existing government employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out. Such acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled. We need to empower federal employees as watchdogs of wrongdoing and partners in performance. Barack Obama will strengthen whistleblower laws to protect federal workers who expose waste, fraud, and abuse of authority in government. Obama will ensure that federal agencies expedite the process for reviewing whistleblower claims and whistleblowers have full access to courts and due process."
That doesn't exactly seem to jive with what we have been seeing does it? Snowden is being charged with espionage, but he isn't alone. President Obama has dropped the hammer on more whistleblowers than any president in U.S. history. According to PolicyMic pundit Aubrey Bloomfield, "Prior to Obama taking office, only three people in total ... had been charged with [violating the Espionage Act]." Under Obama's watch, that number has increased 367%.
I personally don't understand how anyone can argue that gathering private data from American citizens without a warrant is not a violation of our Fourth Amendment rights. It is as clear cut as can be. There is no gray area here. Since that is the case, then the govenment was behaving illegally and Snowden is a whistleblower. Therefore, he deserves praise, not handcuffs. But, recent history indicates that Obama doesn't praise whistleblowers. So much for promises.