You are currently viewing the printable version of this article, to return to the normal page, please click here.

EDITORIAL: Whistleblower on the run

The life of this leaker won’t be a happy one

Question of the Day

Is it still considered bad form to talk politics during a social gathering?

View results

Edward J. Snowden is on the lam. The leaker who revealed the extent of the National Security Agency's domestic eavesdropping may have put some of the country's most closely held secrets into the hands of our enemies. The government can blame mostly itself.

Mr. Snowden may have taken laptops brimming with secrets on his travels from Hong Kong and Russia to destinations that could include Cuba, Venezuela and Ecuador. There's no way to know what documents he has with him, or whether he could use them to buy the cooperation of the governments aiding him. The only thing we know for sure is that Mr. Snowden leaked a slide show about the National Security Agency program called Prism, which sifts through personal information provided by Apple, Google, Microsoft and other high-tech firms. He revealed a secret court order demanding that Verizon hand over all the data the telecommunications company has on its customers.

The Fourth Amendment requires warrants be issued only for particular individuals; it does not allow general warrants, such as the Verizon order. Many in the government think the public — that is, the rest of us — can't be trusted to judge whether there's constitutional misconduct in the government's domestic spying programs.

On Capitol Hill, House Speaker John A. Boehner, a Republican, called Mr. Snowden a "traitor." Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, said he was a "lawbreaker." President Obama sent the message that whistleblowing is not tolerated on his watch. In February, John Kiriakou, formerly a CIA analyst, was imprisoned for, in his own words, "telling the public that torture was official U.S. government policy" when he confirmed the use of waterboarding. Mr. Snowden referred to Kiriakou when he explained why he was fleeing the United States.

A plausible case can be made that the waterboarding revelation harmed American interests, but no such claim is plausible about the crackdown on State Department whistleblowers who departed from the fraudulent White House explanation of the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Hearings in May before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee revealed, in Rep. Darrell E. Issa's words, the use of "retaliation and intimidation tactics against lifelong public servants who dared to question top officials on their inaccurate and highly public assertions."

"National security" has become a political weapon for an administration that routinely leaks classified information. Earlier this month, the Defense Department's inspector general confirmed that former CIA Director Leon E. Panetta gave top-secret material to the producers of "Zero Dark Thirty," the movie about the raid that took down Osama bin Laden. This was one of the administration's few foreign-policy success stories. Such forbidden disclosures become authorized when a top official reveals them, even if for "public relations." (It's called "spinning.")

"Zero Dark Thirty" is evidence that Mr. Snowden's surveillance disclosure hasn't jeopardized national security. As in the movie, bin Laden avoided all electronic communications because he knew the CIA was listening. Mr. Snowden's revelations — so far — have been news to Americans and our allies, not to terrorists.

There's probably much more to the story that we don't yet know. But if Mr. Snowden made his disclosures for personal gain, he's not likely to enjoy life in Ecuador or wherever he goes. Ecuador has great natural beauty, but a spy on the lam can never relax on a beach. That buzzing sound overhead, too loud for a mosquito, might be one of Mr. Obama's drones, taking aim.

The Washington Times

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus
TWT Video Picks
You Might Also Like
  • Maureen McDonnell looks on as her husband, former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, made a statement on Tuesday after the couple was indicted on corruption charges. (associated press)

    PRUDEN: Where have the big-time grifters gone?

  • This photo taken Jan. 9, 2014,  shows New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie gesturing as he answers a question during a news conference  at the Statehouse in Trenton.  Christie will propose extending the public school calendar and lengthening the school day in a speech he hopes will help him rebound from an apparent political payback scheme orchestrated by key aides. The early front-runner for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination will make a case Tuesday Jan. 14, 2014, that children who spend more time in school graduate better prepared academically, according to excerpts of his State of the State address obtained by The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

    BRUCE: Bombastic arrogance or humble determination? Chris Christie’s choice

  • ** FILE ** Secretary of State Hillary Rodham testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the deadly September attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador J. Chris Stevens and three other Americans. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

    PRUDEN: The question to haunt the West

  • Get Breaking Alerts