- - Sunday, September 10, 2017

My role in the Vietnam War was a minor one. I served as an 18-year-old seaman in the radio communication division aboard the USS Kitty Hawk as the aircraft carrier performed combat operations on “Yankee Station” off the coast of Vietnam in 1970 and 1971.

Radiomen and security administrators performed a variety of functions in the division, including the protection of highly classified material. As the Kitty Hawk served as the Task Force 77 flagship, the communications center processed all information on the Vietnam War, including traffic from the other military services and the alphabet soup intelligence agencies.

In the 1960s and early 1970s the Vietnam War divided the country. It was a strained time in American history, perhaps even more divisive than now. And like many Americans at the time, many of the sailors onboard the carrier were against the U.S. government’s policy in the Vietnam War.

They thought America should win.

Much of the classified material processed in the communications center was considered solid gold. Any sailor in the division could have easily walked off the ship in Hong Kong with a seabag full of classified material and made a gift of them to the press or to the North Vietnamese, the Soviets and the Communist Chinese. But despite strong misgivings about war policy, the sailors took an oath, and they abided by that oath.

Which brings us to Edward Snowden.

The former CIA employee and CIA and NSA contractor famously did not abide by his oath and according to NSA, he stole and subsequently released to certain journalists in 2013 more than 1.5 million classified documents. And he no doubt gave much more damaging material to his hosts and protectors, the Chinese and the Russians.

“Snowden,” a film bio of the NSA leaker, recently appeared on cable TV. Oliver Stone, the director of “Platoon” and “JFK,” directed the film. Mr. Stone previously interviewed and made documentaries about Fidel Castro and Vladimir Putin, both of whom are misunderstood good men and great world leaders, according to the director.

So it is not surprising that he made a film that makes Snowden look heroic. The film offers a sugary portrayal of Snowden and a flimsy and phony excuse of for his treason, unhinged ego and duplicity.

If Snowden truly believed the NSA was doing something illegal, he could have reported the actions to the NSA inspector general (IG). George Ellard, the NSA’s IG and top watchdog at the time, said Snowden should have come to him.

Mr. Ellard stated that Snowden would have been afforded the same protections available to other employees who file about 1,000 complaints a year on the NSA hotline system. He went on to say that a complaint would have resulted in an independent assessment. He could have also spoken to the congressional intelligence committees, but Snowden didn’t take the legal path. He went public for the fame and glory.

It took a comedian, John Oliver, from the HBO program “Last Week Tonight,” to truly take this fraud to task and ridicule him in a very funny and profane interview. During the taped interview in Moscow, Snowden admitted that he didn’t read all of the classified documents he released.

Yes, he admitted to Mr. Oliver, the chosen newspapers he leaked to failed to redact information about classified operations against al Qaeda and named intelligence officers. But, he said, the mistakes were the “fundamental price of liberty.”

As for Snowden being a self-sacrificing whistleblower, one should know that this sneak thief and liar convinced more than a dozen colleagues to give him their logins and passwords, stating that he needed them to do his job as a systems administrator.

Understandably, this action did not help further their careers, but Snowden only cared about accessing more information to release, and not about the consequences to his unwitting fellow employees. Is this the act of a hero?

According to James Clapper, the director of national intelligence in 2014, the Snowden leaks were the most massive and damaging theft of intelligence in our history.

Mr. Clapper said that Russia, China, al Qaeda and other terror groups benefited from the Snowden disclosures. He noted that terrorists and other adversaries of America were “going to school” on U.S. intelligence sources, methods and tradecraft.

Snowden, charged with espionage and stealing government property, remains a fugitive today.

“NSA whistleblower and traitor Edward Snowden, living in asylum in Russia, has released a manifesto directed at the United States claiming that telling the truth should not be a crime,” said Jay Leno, the host of “The Tonight Show.” “And believe me, there’s no better place to celebrate free speech, truth, and equal rights than in Russia.”

• Paul Davis is a writer who covers crime, espionage and terrorism.

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