23 Jan Immunity for Snowden
An obscure computer programmer who suddenly makes news for leaking secret NSA files. Edward Snowden is deemed a traitor by the U.S. government for causing substantial damage to national security. Let’s check a few facts and see what the people have to say about this.
Snowden began his career as a security guard at the University of Maryland’s Center for Advanced Study of Language. The institution was connected to the NSA. In 2006, Snowden got an IT job at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). After 3 years, he left to work for private contractors such as DELL & Booz Allen Hamilton (both NSA subcontractors) after being suspected of gaining access into classified files. After working in the IT department for years, he became curious about the NSA’s surveillance activities. At Booz Allen Hamilton, he started to compile a list of top-secret NSA documents on practices he found invasive & unethical. The records pertained to information on the NSA’s domestic surveillance practices. After gathering enough information, he took a flight to Hong Kong, China on May 20, 2013, & arranged for a clandestine meeting with journalists from the Guardian & filmmaker Laura Poitras.
The Guardian released the secret documents supplied by Snowden on June 5. The very next day, The Guardian & The Washington Post published Snowden’s leaked information on PRISM. PRISM is an NSA program designed for collecting real-time information electronically. In June 2013, the Guardian, based on Snowden’s leaked files, startled the nation by revealing that the Bush and Obama administrations had covertly been using Section 215 to obtain Americans’ phone data in bulk. The revelations made by the leak raised a significant doubt in the minds of millions of Americans on the Patriot Act.
Snowden stated in one of his interviews, “I’m willing to sacrifice my former life because I can’t in good conscience allow the U.S. government to destroy privacy, internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they’re secretly building.”
On June 14, 2013, federal prosecutors accused Snowden of theft of government Property, unauthorized communication of national defense information and willful communication of classified communications intelligence information to an unauthorized person. The charges fall under the Espionage Act. While some declared him a traitor, others appreciated his cause calling it even heroic. He’s been staying in exile in Russia since 2013. Bernie Sanders, former NSA member along with other famous celebrities, ranging from Hollywood actors & rock musicians to politicians and professors have called on the government to grant clemency to Snowden and allow him to return home to the U.S. Not everyone shares the same opinion on the issue. The former director of the NSA, Michael Hayden, says Snowden should face “the full force of the law” were he to come home. Stewart Baker, also former NSA member, argues that Snowden’s leaks seriously harmed US national interests. There are mixed views on the consequences of this leak. What do you think? Should the U.S. government grant immunity to Edward Snowden?