Written By: CASPER ZAJAC
Edward Snowden has been charged with two felonies under the Espionage Act. By whom? By his own Government. Yes. That’s right. The US Government, which spies on its own citizens, claims that this whistle-blower is a spy. As a result he fled Hong Kong for Russia. Congratulations President Obama, you have just made laugh all the people who in the time of Cold War jumped over the Berlin Wall hoping for better future in the West.
The Act itself was passed in 1917 on entering the Great War. Section 1 and 2 is designed to mercilessly punish espionage (death sentence available in the time of war) whereas Section 3 prevents defeatists from spoiling the public spirit. This piece of legislation is rarely used by the public prosecution as it is widely believed to be too broad. One could even say that it is catch-all type of legislation which comes handy in fight with political opponents. The victim of the espionage that the Act is concerned with could be only the United States themselves – ‘injury to the United States’. Here is the question for the Jury at the upcoming trial: ‘who actually is the United States’? The harm that was done, if any, was done to the Government of the United States, not the People of the United States who had every right to know about this unprecedented surveillance system conducted by the National Security Agency.
Therefore, there has to be decided whether the USA as established by the Founding Fathers refers to the actual American People or to the Government that represents them. The question is of utmost importance because it is either the Government that serves the People or the other way around. The Constitution makes clear that it is the People who established the Government therefore, only they could be regarded as the ‘true’ United States. Similar struggle has been seen throughout the history of all nations across the globe. There is something that needs to be clarified once and for good – the Government’s powers must be limited as its only duty is to serve the People who established it. The State must always refer to the People who live in there, not the Government which is only their servant. The roots of the Snowden trial could be found in the confusion over this matter. As long as the Government tries to be more important than the People it represents, there will be more whistle-blowers facing their trials.
Moreover, the espionage should never be treated in the same way as disclosing the information to the public. Undoubtedly, the citizens have every right to know what the Government is doing. There is no buts. People who claim that so called ‘national security’ is more important than transparency should be reminded of Benjamin Franklin’s words of wisdom: ‘People willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both.’ Furthermore, since the Government is accountable before the citizens, they must have all the relevant information. Otherwise, the accountability is an illusion for one cannot control anything without the knowledge of its actions. Without an access to information there will be neither accountability nor control.
Edward Snowden broke the law. That is the fact. The fact which is completely irrelevant. Shame on you the US Government. You are guilty of the real espionage here. Spying on your own citizens? Where has the spirit of the American Revolution gone? Shame on you.
Casper Zajac is a contributor for The Libertarian