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Run Edward Snowden, run!

Jonathan Simon, professor of law | August 2, 2013

Edward Snowden’s father recently gave an interview in which he rejected the idea that his son should come home to face US punishment (read the full story in the Guardian here):

He is going to be thrown into a hole. He is not going to be allowed to speak.” The 52­-year­-old said he had been as “surprised as the rest of America” when his son, who worked for a contractor, was revealed as the source of the leaks about surveillance by the National Security Agency to the Guardian. “As a father it pains me what he did,” Snowden said. “I wish my son could simply have sat in Hawaii and taken the big paycheck, lived with his beautiful girlfriend and enjoyed paradise. But as an American citizen, I am absolutely thankful for what he did.”

With Bradley Manning facing the likelihood of dozens of years in prison, despite no evidence he harmed anyone, I could not agree more.  There was once a tradition in this country of people breaking the law for principled reasons, typically to protest or expose even greater moral wrongdoing, but accepting their lawful punishment as a way of underscoring their personal commitment to the polity and its laws.  However that belonged to a time when America believed in civilized punishments that had some proportion to the crimes committed.

In the age of Bush and Obama, American punishments reflect a level of viciousness and degradation that no principled person should be willing to accept for themselves or others.  Bradley Manning, even before he was convicted of anything, was subjected to treatment that would be considered a human rights violation in any civilized country but raised hardly a word of concern from press or politicians today.  While criminals on Wall Street who have ruined the lives of millions receive no punishment and indeed the solicitude of the Obama Administration, ordinary and political criminals in this country are subject to punishments that are cruel, degrading, often amount to torture, but are by no means unusual (in fact they are routine).

Given that fact, the days of sacrificial civil disobedience are behind us.  Put principle and pious appeals to come home aside Edward, and follow your Dad’s wise advice.  Run Edward, run, run, run….

Cross-posted from the blog, Governing through Crime

Comments to “Run Edward Snowden, run!

  1. The times have changed. These are transnational threats we are are dealing with today and security is paramount to our lives, our livelihoods, and the institutional systems that Americans take for granted. There is a reason why we can travel all over the world with little care about our safety as Americans.
    Agree, Daniel Ellsberg is an American hero–but we are not sitting in the time and space as Ellsberg’s time. Manning is a volunteer Soldier. There is no conscription. This is not Vietnam. 60K people haven’t passed in these conflicts. I’ve lost colleagues who are escorting journalists into these war zones trying to get the story out to our country. It’s a different age.
    We are in the midst of a time where the West’s ideals and narratives are being offered as an alternative. And we are desperately trying to create a blue-print for the next 100 years. If a Snowden or a Manning character creeps out of the darkness, complicating an already complicated landscape–you can bet they will be dealt with.

  2. President Obama promised Americans a transparent government. Everywhere we go, airports, work, and school, there are signs that say: ‘if you see something, say something’ it’s my belief that Snowden and Manning took this to the extreme. Americans have come to the conclusion that our government can’t be trusted, to tell it’s citizens the truth of anything. Our food supply has been genetically modified, we have nuclear accidents waiting to happen, our military is riddled with sexual abuse, overcharging tax payers and refusal to leave countries where we are not wanted, corporations not congress are running are controlling our nation.
    How do we expect our children to behave, when they see nothing but ‘grab all you can before you get caught’ mentality.

  3. These days, the US government couches everything with “security needs” and people like you buy into it. To paraphrase someone smarter than any of us: “he would sacrifice liberty for security deserves neither”.
    By your “reasoning” (and I use the term loosely), Daniel Ellsberg was also a traitor. So was Martin Luther King, Jr., for not obeying the government. So was George Washington for that matter.
    A patriot is not someone who blindly obeys the government no matter what it does and a traitor is not simply someone who disobeys the government. A patriot is someone who stands up for the principles that make this country special, as those principles are greater and more important than any single administration.

  4. i think he did and not expecting he will be revealed. so decided to run and go somewhere he will not be touched. by going to russia after china, he just looking for shelter. that normal for him. but its not right to tell about what your country security measures. my best wishes for him. he might live his remaining life outside of his home country. unless he turned traitor long ago. we can never be sure of the true motivation of his acts. he only knows or maybe some people around him

  5. Many of your American grandfathers gave their lives to drive fascism out of Europe. Why now tolerate and even support it on your own soil?
    Can’t you see the immense danger of a government with a hidden agenda that turns on its own citizens?

  6. First, it wouldn’t be accurate to compare what Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden have done to the graft on Wall Street. The only similarities between the two groups is that the Wall Street bunch are sanctioned and supported by the Fed Chair in the same way that the programs Edward Snowden revealed are sanctioned and supported by Congress. Snowden and Manning have voluntarily put people in a war-zone (Manning) and broad national security elements (Snowden) in a perilous position. As a Marine who has served in both theaters in a variety of roles, I can assure you that linking deaths or security issues to actions become exceedingly difficult the further and further away you are from event. We’ll never know the implications of Manning’s actions. However, we do know that he has violated a contract and that’s good enough when we are in the midst of combat operations. Their punishments are befitting of their voluntary decisions.

  7. Modern-day KGB, Russian security service, have better resources in the heart of USA than Edward. Secret services must exist worldwide, because every country maintains them: in that activity is USA not on the top – Russian have tradition of centuries, and have always enjoyed full governmental support to operate beyond law. And China is certainly not too behind Russia. USA must protect also from inside and friends. Edward – being in Russia, prefer those who suffered from Gulags and Russian political hospitals – and . Learn history to understand future.

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