Surveillance State

Historic challenge to support Edward Snowden

In Washington, where the state of war and the surveillance state are one and the same, top officials have begun to call for Edward Snowden’s head. After nearly 12 years of the “war on terror,” Snowden’s moral action of whistleblowing is a tremendous challenge to the established order of intensifying secrecy and dominant power that equates safe governance with Orwellian surveillance.

How can we truly express our appreciation? A first step is to thank Snowden—publicly and emphatically—by signing the “Thank NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden” petition, easily found online. But as Snowden faces extradition and vengeful prosecution from the U.S. government, active support will be vital in the weeks, months and years ahead.

“I’m not going to hide,” he told the Washington Post on Sunday. “Allowing the U.S. government to intimidate its people with threats of retaliation for revealing wrongdoing is contrary to the public interest.”

When a Post reporter asked whether his revelations would change anything, Snowden replied: “I think they already have. Everyone everywhere now understands how bad things have gotten—and they’re talking about it. They have the power to decide for themselves whether they are willing to sacrifice their privacy to the surveillance state.”

And, when the Post asked about threats to “national security,” Snowden offered an assessment light years ahead of mainstream media’s conventional wisdom. “We managed to survive greater threats in our history,” he said, “than a few disorganized terrorist groups and rogue states without resorting to these sorts of programs. It is not that I do not value intelligence, but that I oppose . . . omniscient, automatic, mass surveillance.”

He continued: “That seems to me a greater threat to the institutions of free society than missed intelligence reports, and unworthy of the costs.”

With his actions and words, Edward Snowden has given aid and comfort to grassroots efforts for democracy. What we do with his brave gift will be our choice.

Norman Solomon is co-founder of and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include ‘War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.’

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