Recent near-daily T.V. news reports have revealed the extremes that the U.S. government is willing go to in order to demonize domestic whistle-blowers — those who act as oversight to benefit citizens by exposing an organization’s wrongdoing.
For example, ABC World News’ June 13 segment Could Edward Snowden Defect to China? employed nefarious tactics against a 29-year-old who publicized in the British newspaper The Guardian America’s “sweeping surveillance system” secretly monitoring our phone calls and internet communiqués.
The piece’s title was intentionally misleading, as the story made plain that Snowden was already in China, the use of the word “defect” carefully chosen to taint the subject by association with Cold War-era red-menace alarm.
A government detractor used phraseology applied to convicted fugitives: “He made a run for it.” Paving the way for charges to come, he ended ominously. “He’s not a whistle blower and maybe worse.”
Investigative reporter Brian Ross continued the theme, painting Snowden like a pirate that could abscond “with a trove” of sensitive American secrets.
Indeed, general dismissal alternated with a schizophrenic portrayal of Snowden to make his actions seem the silly inevitability of a chaotic life: His childhood vicinity to the Maryland N.S.A., his “signs of brilliance,” status as a high school “dropout,” attempt “to become a model,” and ultimate “calling in the world of spies and the internet.”
One wondered what The Powers That Be were more angry about, his outing of citizen monitoring, or claim to possess proof that “the U. S. has been hacking into Chinese computer networks for years.” (Come on — in this digital day, was either revelation supposed to be really surprising?)
Sound bites from psychiatrist Dr. David Charney served to expand the Obama administration’s stance that Snowden’s action was a criminal breach of national security — the mouthpiece declaring that while Snowden was “very well spoken, very sharp,” there was “a self-absorbed, egotistical flavor to what he’s saying.”
I could not believe my ears. Forces were putting forth some nobody pundit to openly accuse a man who’d sacrificed a lucrative N.S.A. job in Hawaii of being egotistical?! It all made sense, though, when I discovered a longer version of the ABC story that revealed that Charney “frequently works with CIA agents.”
Ross concluded the piece on a threatening note with “Officials say one way or another… CIA agents will get their hands on those documents.” No doubt joined at the hip with them, this implied getting Snowden, too. With hatchet jobs like these, no doubt many naive viewers have quickly absorbed the message: No need for trial or Geneva conventions — bad American deserves whatever he gets.
The report was chillingly Orwellian — the irony ignored that mere weeks shy of celebrating the 4th of July, the government seems intent on repudiating its own origin in dissent.
Having denied the unarmed Osama bin Laden legal process and admitting to killing 347 people (including 4 Americans) by remote-controlled drone strikes, officials now act entitled to assassinate the character of citizens who dare expose unethical governmental practices to public scrutiny.
And since the U. S. deems itself either perpetually at war or actively engaged in fomenting regime change abroad, there’s never a moment when someone who leaks information can’t be accused of violating issues of national security: Of course, we’re never told what the laws are, enabling those in power to call whatever they like a violation at a moment’s notice to suit their purposes.
Tyrants have long found castigating whistle-blowers expedient. Indeed, N. C. governor Pat McCrory recently engaged in such insidious spin when he labeled protesting religious leaders “outside agitators” — even though neither he nor his fellow Republican leaders of North Carolina’s House and Senate were born in the state they now rule.
Well, I take the castigation of patriots agonized by conscience personally because I’ve been a whistle-blower; I empathize with folks caught between a job and justice.
A Registered Nurse for a quarter century, I was wrongfully fired for blowing the whistle about an incompetent doctor to a patient’s relative. I sued the mega-corp (the largest of its kind in North America), and they paid me a settlement (see Deerman v. Beverly California Corporation). In the process, I improved N.C. public healthcare law and set national precedent for any professional nurse to challenge widespread “hire-and-fire-at-will” laws.
Which is why I feel compelled to go on the record that I believe Snowden’s act to have been a selfless one deserving a ticker-tape parade and wide laudation — not the kind of baseless, shabby bashing that our government oft decries other countries for employing in order to marginalize resistance or opposition.
I also feel that Pagans need be quite discerning when it comes to identifying and rejecting blatant propaganda when they see and hear it, for we who live according to ethical imperatives not only can easily find ourselves prey to such tactics, but should consider such assaults on integrity offensive and anathema.
I therefore call upon one and all to resist such fascist trends:1). Stop unwarranted government intrusion on your right to privacy; read Five ways to stop the NSA from spying on you, by Timothy B. Lee. 2). Share my post for the edification of folks you care about.
3). Support whistle-blowers; read Maggie Severns’ interview with an expert psychologist who’s not a CIA mouthpiece, What Really Drives a Whistleblower Like Edward Snowden?
4). Learn how to be a smart whistle-blower without being ID’d by the government or corporation you’re exposing; read Hear Ye, Future Deep Throats: This Is How to Leak to the Press, by Nicholas Weaver.
5). Sign the petition seeking to pardon Snowden posted on the White House website Sunday June 9, 2013, at: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/pardon-edward-snowden/Dp03vGYD. Government staff promise to review petitions that receive 100,000 signatures in a month.