Historic Challenge to Support the Moral Actions of Edward Snowden

In Washington, where the state of war and the surveillance state are one and the same, top officials have begun to call for Edward Snowden’s head. His moral action of whistleblowing — a clarion call for democracy — now awaits our responses.

After nearly 12 years of the “war on terror,” the revelations of recent days are a tremendous challenge to the established order: nonstop warfare, intensifying secrecy and dominant power that equate safe governance with Orwellian surveillance.

In the highest places, there is more than a wisp of panic in rarefied air. It’s not just the National Security Agency that stands exposed; it’s the repressive arrogance perched on the pyramid of power.

Back here on the ground, so many people — appalled by Uncle Sam’s continual morph into Big Brother — have been pushing against the walls of anti-democratic secrecy. Those walls rarely budge, and at times they seem to be closing in, even literally for some (as in the case of heroic whistleblower Bradley Manning). But all the collective pushing has cumulative effects.

In recent days, as news exploded about NSA surveillance, a breakthrough came into sight. Current history may not be an immovable wall; it may be on a hinge. And if we push hard enough, together, there’s no telling what might be possible or achieved.

The gratitude that so many of us now feel toward Edward Snowden raises the question: How can we truly express our appreciation?

A first step is to thank him — publicly and emphatically. You can do that by clicking here to sign the “Thank NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden” petition, which my colleagues at RootsAction.org will send directly to him, including the individual comments.

But of course saying thank-you is just one small step onto a crucial path. As Snowden faces extradition and vengeful prosecution from the U.S. government, active support will be vital — in the weeks, months and years ahead.

Signing the thank-you petition, I ventured some optimism: “What you’ve done will inspire kindred spirits around the world to take moral action despite the risks.” Bravery for principle can be very contagious.

Edward Snowden has taken nonviolent action to help counter the U.S. government’s one-two punch of extreme secrecy and massive violence. The process has summoned the kind of doublespeak that usually accompanies what cannot stand the light of day.

So, when Snowden’s employer Booz Allen put out a statement Sunday night, it was riddled with official indignation, declaring: “News reports that this individual has claimed to have leaked classified information are shocking, and if accurate, this action represents a grave violation of the code of conduct and core values of our firm.”

What are the “code of conduct” and “core values” of this huge NSA contractor? The conduct of stealthy assistance to the U.S. national security state as it methodically violates civil liberties, and the values of doing just about anything to amass vast corporate profits.

The corporate-government warfare state is enraged that Edward Snowden has broken through with conduct and values that are 180 degrees in a different direction. “I’m not going to hide,” he told the Washington Post on Sunday. “Allowing the U.S. government to intimidate its people with threats of retaliation for revealing wrongdoing is contrary to the public interest.”

When a Post reporter asked whether his revelations would change anything, Snowden replied: “I think they already have. Everyone everywhere now understands how bad things have gotten — and they’re talking about it. They have the power to decide for themselves whether they are willing to sacrifice their privacy to the surveillance state.”

And, when the Post asked about threats to “national security,” Snowden offered an assessment light-years ahead of mainline media’s conventional wisdom: “We managed to survive greater threats in our history . . . than a few disorganized terrorist groups and rogue states without resorting to these sorts of programs. It is not that I do not value intelligence, but that I oppose . . . omniscient, automatic, mass surveillance. . . .  That seems to me a greater threat to the institutions of free society than missed intelligence reports, and unworthy of the costs.”

Profoundly, in the early summer of 2013, with his actions and words, Edward Snowden has given aid and comfort to grassroots efforts for democracy. What we do with his brave gift will be our choice.


Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.”


Norman Solomon

Co-Founder at RootsAction
Norman Solomon is the author of “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” He is the executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy and co-founder of RootsAction.org.

8 Comments on "Historic Challenge to Support the Moral Actions of Edward Snowden"

  1. evan black | Jun 10, 2013 at 6:35 pm |

    Not quite sure how you equate NSA surveillance to, “vast corporate profits.” These aren’t large retailers spying on everyone

    • Actually, that’s exactly what’s happening.

      Besides PRISM’s use of Facebook, Google, Apple, etc. (who use your info for retail), the vast majority of gov’t work is done by private contractors. When contractors talk about the gov’t, they don’t say “the government.” They always say “the customer.” They are retailers, too.

      Go do a job search on nsa.gov for cyber related positions. Compare that to a couple contractors. Then consider the thousands of contractors and subcontractors out there. The gov’t doesn’t do anything by itself.
      Defense lobbyists are powerful, but have it easy: politicians will do anything to attract and protect the jobs created by these programs in their districts. Surely you read the articles every year where Congress mandates new jets and tanks to be built even though the DoD says they don’t need or want them. The IC works the same way. These projects are contracted out for huge profits. Even the the scope of work itself is not set by the gov’t–it’s negotiated between the gov’t and the contractor.

      Sorry for the rant, but SWIM has worked in the private sector on over $1B worth of these types of contracts in the past year alone. And that’s just exercised value, not potential.

  2. BuzzCoastin | Jun 10, 2013 at 9:52 pm |

    I think Snowden knew he’d be killed for this; he says so in the Gardian interview. And I’d be surprised, and so would everyone else, if he wasn’t killed before he finds asylum.

    I can’t think of one aMerkin whistle-blower who has escaped punishment and
    most end up dead. God blush aMerika!

    (OK, Benedict Arnold got off, but that was then.)


    • I think Snowden is part of a deliberate plan by the CIA and NSA leadership to pull the plug on PRISM. It’s become a liability because the clowns in the White House have compromised it by abusing it for their own political ends.

  3. For the next couple of months we should all use the “keywords” that trigger NSA surveillance….Every email, twitter, messanger etc. should contain words like terrotist explode, jihad, etc…
    That’ll keep them busy for a long time going thru all the data they collect….

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