According to the U.S. government, Edward Snowden is a spy.
That is the official word from Attorney General Eric Holder, who is accusing him of espionage. He is not a hero, we are now being told. Wait – he is not a whistleblower? He has not done a service to the American people?
How did this happen? How and why did the national news media change their coverage on a dime, in a single day last week, leaving its television audiences laughing aloud at the audacious about face. All week Snowden was a hero, exposing the unconstitutional NSA surveillance – and in one moment he suddenly morphs into a traitor.
Isn’t this the same Eric Holder who told a federal judge that James Rosen of Fox News was “an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator” in espionage?
Oh that? Old news. Holder was exaggerating to get a warrant. It was a white lie. All is forgiven. The Fox is back in the pen. But don’t try that at home.
Meanwhile, now that Edward Snowden has sacrificed his life for freedom of speech and our right to privacy, the First and Fourth Amendments to the Constitution, the national media are falling all over themselves to prove their loyalty to the all-powerful government, lining up against their latest target.
Snowden is a fake, they say. He is not our friend. “He did this for attention,” says Michelle Cottle of the Daily Beast, during a CNN appearance. Thanks Michelle, brilliant. The NSA can now stop transcribing your phone conversations. Well done. You’re safe. The First Amendment can go to hell.
The media seem to believe that Snowden should wait patiently to be picked up by the U.S. government, that he is wrong to run, that he should trust the people who he knows have been lying to the American public about surveillance and who allow torture as long as the people doing the torturing are Americans and don’t wear black or have scary music in the background. That would be too close to the Nazis.
It is clear that Snowden did not expect to be on the run. Did he really think he could escape from a government who has everyone’s emails and phone conversations stored away? Did he think that any corporation or ambassador or head of state or government in the world would stand before such a power? This treasure trove of data is the new atomic bomb, and America has it. No one else. We rule the world. Or perhaps, I should say that Barack Obama and his successor rule the world.
Poor Edward Snowden. Running to Hong Kong and then Moscow will only help the government paint him as a bad guy, a traitor to America. He imagined that people in American really believed in the Constitution or in a government of laws. He thought we would care about the fact that our government leaders lie to Congress and the media. He imagined that we still have a free press, who can write and say what they believe, without direction from corporate owners who, like druggies in the inner city, now depend totally on government subsidies and easy Fed loans to sustain their empires.
So two questions remain: Isn’t the government taking a risk that by running Snowden into the ground they will only make him a hero?
There is a simple answer to that one. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what any of us say. They have the new WMD. They don’t need to control everybody. There are plenty who will fall all over themselves to get in their good graces and say and do whatever they think the government wants, just to avoid the inconvenience of an IRS audit or a criminal investigation based on their emails and phone calls. So the government will risk Edward Snowden’s martyrdom.
Why? Because the government has even more secrets to hide. It fears another Snowden among its 4.2 million top-secret-cleared employees. They have to make his life so miserable that no one else will dare speak up.
And finally, one last thing remains to be known. If Edward Snowden is a spy, not a whistleblower, then for whom has he been spying? Russia? China? North Korea? Islamic fundamentalists?
No. He has been spying for us, the American people. He is our spy. He is the first American spy to be prosecuted by an American government. They will get him. And he will be locked away, and after the furor dies down, he may even be tortured by our government. He is like a Buddhist monk in Vietnam in the 1960s setting himself ablaze, signaling to the world that something is wrong here. He is a Paul Revere with an alarming message: “The government is coming, the government is coming.”