Monday, March 9, 2015

#68 / Petraeus Or Snowden?

Debra J. Saunders writes a reliably right-wing column for the San Francisco Chronicle. On Sunday, March 8, 2015, Saunders' column posed a relevant question: "Which leaker is worse - Petraeus or Snowden?"

No surprise! Saunders thinks that Edward Snowden's leaks were far worse than those of David Petraeus, a four-star general and subsequently the head of the CIA, who handed over classified information to his girlfriend, to help her write a book. Petraeus also lied about what he had done to the FBI. Petraeus resigned his commission and is now making big bucks on the speaking circuit. Saunders appears to agree with United States Senator Dianne Feinstein that Petraeus has "suffered enough."

Snowden, on the other hand, released information to the public in general (not to his girlfriend). The information revealed by Snowden let us all know that the United States government is routinely spying on every one of us. Snowden's revelations were much like those disclosures made by Chelsea Manning (also a member of the United States armed forces, like Petraeus, but not at that four-star general level). Manning, too, by disclosing classified information, let us all know things that the government was doing, in our names, that the government didn't want us to know. Manning is serving a 35-year prison sentence.

So why is Snowden the "worse" leaker, according to Sanders? Here's why:

The system cannot survive rogue actors who decide they have a right to broadcast state secrets. 

Sanders thinks we need to preserve a "system" that permits what is supposed to be a representative government to wage war without a vote by elected representatives, that allows the government secretly to imprison people without a trial, and secretly spies on everyone. This is a "system" that rewards four-star killers and keeps the people supposedly in charge of the government (us) in the dark. 

I'd say, you'd be a hero if you could bring that system down.

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