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Edward Snowden: Whistleblower, Traitor or Both?

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Interestingly, Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski (MSNBC) was concerned with the illegality of Edward Snowden's actions; but just because something is legal does not make it morally right, and challenging an unjust law is still an act of civil disobedience. Civil disobedience is an American tradition where people of integrity stand up to and violate unjust laws. However, the violators must be prepared to face the consequences of their actions.

Edward Snowden did not indiscriminately leak millions of classified documents like Bradely Manning did. Snowden exposed two classified programs "PRISM" and "Meta-Data" which he believed are unlawful invasions of privacy.

Had Bradley Manning limited the scope of the information he leaked to only that which he deemed unlawful; he might be considered a whistleblower. But by cavalierly releasing nearly one million classified documents without regard to their legitimacy or not; Corporal Manning evidenced a reckless disregard for national security and the life-and-death consequences of his actions.

The concern for national security is important, but in addition to saving American lives we must also protect the American way of life. In the words of Thomas Paine, "Live free or die."

Snowden is following in the tradition of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Daniel Ellsberg of the Pentagon Papers. Ellsberg is the dean of modern day whistleblowers, whose advocacy lead to ending the Vietnam War. Snowden's initial disclosures about Internet spying on American Citizens was an act of whistleblowing. "I can't allow the government to destroy our basic civil liberties."

Edward Snowden is a whistleblower; Bradley Manning is merely an informant. However his subsequent leaks about diplomatic spying are more problematic. Was this his attempt to defend himself from the government retaliation that is sure to come? Or are his subsequent leaks better described as vengeful payback and possible espionage?

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Michael McCray is a public interest advocate who combats racism and corruption in the government and other institutions which deprive individuals of their basic civil rights, human rights and constitutional liberties. McCray is co-chair of the (more...)
 

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