Security News

Opinion: Who broke the law, Snowden or the NSA?

Opinion: Who broke the law, Snowden or the NSA?: An NSA official’s suggestion that amnesty for Snowden could possibly be put on the table was undoubtedly welcome news for Snowden, yet NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander rejected the suggestion.

But how can anyone believe that Snowden would not be deserving of amnesty? Clearly it is the government and its senior officials who committed the crime — people who took oaths to defend the Constitution from enemies both foreign and domestic and who failed to take to heart the words they swore to uphold. Indeed, Snowden did not — nor does any government employee — swear allegiance to the president of the United States, or even to the secretary of Defense or the director of NSA. No, he swore to uphold and defend the Constitution.

Unfortunately, while federal law protects whistleblowers who work in other government sectors from reprisals for truth-telling and have paths for reporting wrongdoing and mismanagement, those who work in intelligence are expressly denied such rights. When Senior Staff Representative Diane Roark and longtime senior NSA employees Bill Binney, Ed Loomis, and I submitted a formal complaint about mismanagement at the agency, the government’s response on July 26, 2007, was to send the FBI to raid our homes, searching them for seven hours and seizing our computers, phones and other digital media. We are just now getting our property back after having successfully sued the government in December 2012.

The government even indicted Tom Drake, although it dropped its criminal charges in the case against him. Still, for the five of us, it was the equivalent of a punch in the face and a warning to other would-be “truth-tellers” not to report wrongful government activities or the government will come after you.

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