United States Constitution, Article 3, Section 3: “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court. The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.”
The people who wrote the above text were declared traitors by royal decree. They levied war against Great Britain and took power into their own hands. Despite their treasonous actions and going against their government, the Founding Fathers are largely considered heroes by today’s standards.
In the late 18th century, the rights of the people in the American colonies were continually violated by the ruthless monarch, King George the 3rd. In the Declaration of Independence the colonists put forth a list of grievances including, the King cut off trade between them and the rest of the world, quartered large bodies of troops among them, imposed taxes without consent, and (in some cases) eliminated trial by jury. In response to these disgusting abuses of power, some of the colonists revolted. They said to hell with orders coming from across the sea and wanted to experiment in self-rule, representative democracy, and a balance of powers. The Revolutionary War ensued, and the rest is history.
Thanks to the actions of these brave traitors, the people of the American colonies were liberated from the stranglehold of King George the 3rd, and the United States was born. It was treason that was responsible for this country coming into existence. It was skepticism of authority, distrust of concentrated power, and wariness of governmental power that the United States was founded upon. Unfortunately many people continue to put their faith in government and bureaucrats despite continuing lies, manipulation, and deception.
We in the United State live in a country that believes what the government says and repeatedly puts trust in its actions. It is as if many people view our elected officials as Vulcans; an alien race from Star Trek who are purely logical beings that cannot lie and always act in accordance with the greater good. The founders understood that government is made up of people, not angels or Vulcans. And as people they are prone to greediness, selfishness, and lying. Moreover when you consider the amount of power that is invested in these officials, they are more likely to exemplify these traits than the average citizen who has little power but over their own lives. As P. J. O’ Rourke said “Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.”
For this reason the founders created our government with strict rules, limited authority, and a balance of powers. Incessant trust in government is what leads countries to elect the same leaders over and over again with hope of change but in reality accomplishing nothing except increased centralization and power. This is how the United States government of the late 18th century, which spent about 2% of total GNP and was responsible for national defense, a court system, and a handful of public goods, has grown into a leviathan that spends roughly 25% of total GDP, and has its tentacles involved in every aspect of our lives from the food we eat, to the plants we grow, to our healthcare plan.
In addition to the already enormous modern list of grievances that United States citizens could compile against their government, we can, thanks to Edward Snowed, add spying. Thanks to his experience working with the government agency, Snowden recently revealed the National Security Agency has been seizing Verizon phone records of millions of Americans for seven years. These records include when, where, how long, and with whom the call took place, and as current Vice President Joe Biden explained when the opposing party was responsible for these privacy violations, this information can tell you a lot about a person, their habits and their life. Obviously since his party is now in power, these sacrifices in privacy are necessary for national security and safety. As of today this is the most egregious violation of privacy the government is undertaking, but of course tomorrow there could be another Edward Snowden that tells us something we don’t know.
The people calling Snowden a traitor clearly have little understanding of the Constitution. Snowden has neither levied war against the United States nor has he aided or comforted an enemy. He has merely told the American people they are being spied upon. According to article 3, section 3, Snowden cannot be classified as a traitor.
More importantly the people who claim Edward Snowden is a traitor have no concept of the values this country was founded on; be it freedom, privacy, or distrust of government. Even if he was a traitor by constitutional standards, it is important to recognize this is not always a bad thing, as seen by our country’s founding. Being a traitor to a corrupt and overreaching government is aiding the people who have to endure the power abuses of that government. By committing treason against the United States government, you can really be helping the American people.
Yet the people who continue to put all their faith in the state, and treat the people who are spying on us as angels with the best of intentions are condemning the hero who is attempting to protect the people from their government and restore the values which our founders embraced.