By Wendy N. Powell
A national debate about the NSA leaker shows an increase in those who consider Edward Snowden a traitor. Guest contributor Wendy N. Powell shares her ideas about the matter. For some of us, the jury is still out.
Among countless Americans, my personal jury has been out concerning the NSA leaker Edward Snowden saga, wondering if he is friend to the American people or foe to our country.
If I follow the breadcrumbs, Snowden’s intentions become clearer.
Snowden's game of “Catch Me if You Can” is harming our world relations, weakening our American reputation and shining an embarrassing light on our government. Snowden has been formally charged with espionage and America is being virtually ignored by the countries he has fled to.
Since the former government contractor from Booz Allen Hamilton has been raising his menacingly intentioned head, the jury scales are rapidly tipping in the direction of considering him a foe. While you can argue that Snowden is a hero by alerting Americans to unwarranted searches by the National Security Agency (NSA), he has risked becoming an enemy of the state by aligning himself with other countries and sharing surveillance data about the Prism Digital Surveillance Program. He is attempting to seek asylum in communist nations. If the leaker is a freedom fighter, he certainly does not respect democracy or laws created to protect his very own rights.
Some call Snowden a whistleblower. Keep in mind he was required to take an oath to protect information he was privileged to access. There are procedures for filing whistleblower protection. You don’t just claim to be protected. There is a process and Snowden completely disregarded our laws that protect that right.
According to Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), "He violated his sworn pledge to protect classified information. He jeopardized our national security. And he betrayed the trust of the American people. This man is no hero,"
After Snowden initially sought refuge in Hong Kong his passport was revoked, but too late. China permitted him to fly to Russia. Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) said Hong Kong's refusal to turn over Snowden "complicates" the US-China relationship. He also said the United States needs to make sure countries that harbor Snowden "understand the consequences."
Snowden has been curtailed at least temporarily. But in an unusual move by Russian President Vladimir Putin, he alerted us to exactly where Snowden is. Reportedly, the leaker is now in the transit zone technically outside Russian territory at the Moscow Airport. He has not crossed the border, no more, no less. But we have no power at the Moscow Airport. With a revoked passport, bingo, he becomes Tom Hanks in the movie The Terminal. He is in no man’s land, exactly where he should be, but will Russia let him leave to continue this cat and mouse game?
Secretary of State John Kerry claims there would be consequences for Russia. Will they provide aid to Snowden in exchange for his self-professed and questionably acquired knowledge?
Snowden has been called brilliant and a master of evading surveillance. But he is showing his uneducated, inexperienced colors. He thought he could find refuge in communist China, Russia, Cuba, and quasi-communist Ecuador. These countries could hardly be held up as beacons of individual rights and freedom; quite the hypocrisy in the making.
There is more to this amateur espionage story. Snowden admits to a deliberate mission—applying for his contractor job at the NSA with an express purpose of gathering information that would damage America’s reputation, a tough Washington lesson learned.
It is estimated that four million government employees have the same top secret security clearance as Snowden, including 500,000 contractors. Too large, too much access, and obviously a lack of sufficient employment search processes.
Snowden could have had it all with his potential whistleblower status: books, movies, fame. But his choice was to throw his family and Americans to the wind. He appears to be more a brat out of his league, playing a very dangerous and miscalculated game of espionage. He has gained world-wide notoriety, but his status as a freedom fighter is fading.
According to a recent CNN poll, 52 percent disapprove of Snowden’s actions and 54 percent approve of extradition and prosecution. The disapproval of Snowden is likely to grow. He claims to have much more up his sleeve. This dangerous cat and mouse game is revealing that this leaker’s intentions go way beyond his initial mission.
We can deal with the issue of privacy as a country.
Wendy N. Powell is the author of the critically acclaimed Management Experience Acquired: Necessary Skills for Successfully Managing Any Employee. Her book is now available on e-book sites. She has been featured on ABC, Fox, and NBC as a management and career expert. Powell writes for a number of publications, including a column at The Huffington Post. To learn more about Powell, see the website Management Experience Acquired. Read more of Powell's articles at The US Report.
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