Letter to the editor: Snowden’s actions not a betrayal
In yesterday’s Calgary Herald, Susan Martinuk wrote a column in which she castigated Edward Snowden as a traitor. She claimed that Snowden revealed the NSA’s pervasive surveillance only to achieve celebrity, and that it’s “poetic justice” that he will likely find sanctuary now only in a countries such as Ecuador or Venezuela, whose human rights records pale next to the United States’.
As a rejoinder, I wrote the following letter to the editor, which the Herald published in print today. (Regrettably, they have been tardy in updating the published letters section on their web site, such that I cannot link directly to the correspondence in question.)
Susan Martinuk repeatedly denounces Edward Snowden’s “betrayal” of the United States, but never elucidates its nature. Our ever-increasing use of communications technologies has created an unprecedented ability for government to monitor every facet of our lives, which the security apparatus has happily exploited in the name of life, liberty, and apple pie. Such ubiquitous and unwarranted surveillance marks the first steps toward the human rights violations Martinuk decries in Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador.
Martinuk cannot reasonably claim Snowden’s motives to be opportunistic rather than idealistic. In making these revelations, Snowden has imperilled his life while also sacrificing considerable creature comforts, including a job posting in Hawaii and six-figure salary. The Obama administration, meanwhile, has worked tirelessly through diplomatic channels to ensure Snowden will be denied safe haven not only at home, but also anywhere else in the world.
Snowden’s disclosure was rooted in the founding ideals of western democracy. By framing it instead as a betrayal, Martinuk gives government free license to continue eradicating our personal freedoms in pursuit of some nebulous notion of security.