Sunday, June 9, 2013

NSA Whistleblower Identifies Himself

Very little time to post, so I will only comment briefly on this development.

"The individual responsible for one of the most significant leaks in US political history is Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former technical assistant for the CIA and current employee of the defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton. Snowden has been working at the National Security Agency for the last four years as an employee of various outside contractors, including Booz Allen and Dell.

Snowden will go down in history as one of America’s most consequential whistleblowers, alongside Daniel Ellsberg and Bradley Manning. He is responsible for handing over material from one of the world’s most secretive organisations – the NSA........

• Edward Snowden, 29, tells The Guardian he leaked secret information about the National Security Agency because “I can’t in good conscience allow the U.S. government to destroy privacy, Internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they’re secretly building.”

• “My sole motive is to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them.”

• “The only thing I fear is the harmful effects on my family…”

• “I don’t want to live in a world where there’s no privacy and therefore no room for intellectual exploration and creativity.”

• “The government has granted itself power it is not entitled to. There is no public oversight.”..........."

Edward Snowden joins a list of citizens who have done what to many has become unthinkable - risking - if not his Life*, but certainly his Fortune, in order to protect both the rights of his countrymen and his own Sacred Honor.

*(That of course cannot be ruled out - He is in Hong Kong now but can be sent to prison if returned to the US)

I has "has become unthinkable" as our society has come to regard one's own career and personal (Mostly financial) security far ahead of those of his fellow citizens. It is a tragic reality that we put our own interests before doing what is right. The pathetic "I have a family"excuse is all-to-often employed to justify any actions, or more likely lack of action, that one takes.

I am retired law enforcement officer. In my years there I found that agency to be a microcosm of today's American society. Contracts would be negotiated by supervising officers that benefited them while leaving officers below the rank of Sergeant to fight an uphill battle to gain fair treatment. Those who had been already promoted would, for the promise of an easy approval of an extra half of a percent for each year of their contract, agree to create a system of annual pay steps for new Sergeants. Not only did this create an unfair situation for newly-promoted Sergeants, it also installed and artificial ceiling for officers. If anew Sergeant only made X amount of dollars that a top-salary officer, then any possible raises for officers would be severely limited. Around the same time, top salary officers, at that time comprising the bulk of the rank and file officers, were also offered a deal if only that too would agree to adding several more pay steps for any new hires. They mad it to top pay in five years, new officers would need nine and a half for the same thing. Also to be dropped for new hires were bonuses for college degrees and other changes that would affect only new hires.

I argued, (For that particular contract - I lost in the next contract) vociferously and successfully to get the officers to drop that idea. I could not bear to see new officers be placed in an unfair position. One of the Sergeants that had shamelessly noted that he had voted for the new supervisor's contract because "They offered us the money", now took to trying to shame me into selling out as did he. He made repeated references that, if we lost in our negotiations, I would not be making enough money for my family. I countered by noting that my kids had a nice home, were fed and clothed well, got an annual vacation at the North Carolina coast, and that no personal benefit of mine should trump the interests of other officers.

Many years later, when drastic and dangerous cuts (Not ordered by governing authorities), along with operational changes that essentially stopped the units from functioning with any appreciable thoroughness or proficiency, other supervisors ( I was a Sergeant  that time), I found the same sad reality among fellow supervisors. Each and every one of them was more concerned with avoiding drawing the ire of the administration because they so desperately wanted to be promoted to Lieutenant  (Police ranks work differently from those of the military). I tried in vain to convince them that all of the rank, status and money on the world in not worth sacrificing their honor. Their officers knew that their bosses only cared for themselves, and it showed in how they dealt with their immediate supervisors.

Mr. Snowden is an anomaly today. He not only recognized that he had to put the rights of his fellow citizens above his own, he actually put his convictions into action.

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