Snowden & Zakaria: Shaming The Whistleblower

FareedLivesCNN reporter and writer for many major publications, Fareed Zakaria recently spoke about Ed Snowden in TIME stating that Snowden is “No hero”. He says, “But while Snowden is no hero, his revelations have focused attention on a brave new world of total information.”

In the article and on video, Zakaria states:

“One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly and with a willingness to accept the penalty.” That was Martin Luther King Jr.’s definition of civil disobedience. It does not appear to be Edward Snowden’s. He has tried by every method possible to escape any judgment or punishment for his actions.

Snowden has been compared to Daniel Ellsberg, the man who leaked the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times. But Ellsberg did not hop on a plane to Hong Kong or Moscow once he had unloaded his cache of documents. He stood trial and faced the possibility of more than 100 years in prison before the court dismissed the case against him because of the prosecution’s mistakes and abuses of justice. Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru spent years in prison in India for defying colonial British rule in their native land.”

The article implies that Snowden has, tried by every method possible to escape any judgment or punishment for his actions.”, implying that blowing the whistle on the most damning piece of news about the frightening inner workings of the NSA that we have ever seen is deserving of punishment and judgement.  In light of Dr. King’s quote, it would seem that this is being painted in the light of civil disobedience, but that’s not what this is; it’s the tale of the modern whistleblower.   The two are not the same and the way in which one should ethically behave is not the same.  This public shaming of a man who will likely be found dead under dubious circumstances is baffling to me.   The rest of the TIME article focuses softly on the seeming inevitable digital signature of each and every person alive and how the US Government isn’t really all that bad:

“As far as we know, the U.S. government has broken no laws and has followed all established procedures, and Congress approved this program, though it did so in secret, writing laws that aren’t public. Obama Administration officials, echoing their (slightly less transparent) predecessors in the Bush era, insist that any fishing expeditions undertaken through terabytes of collected data are highly targeted and do not involve innocent Americans.”

Don’t you feel better now?  Wrapping up his article, Zakaria talks about how creepy and worrisome data collection is, but fails to confront even once the horrific invasion of privacy and personal freedom that we are guaranteed.  My friends, this is a wonderful piece of misdirection and disinformation of which we all should take note.  Walk through the text, see how finely it is put together: Side with Ghandi and King, shun the whistleblower, redirect by talking about the quirks of modern technology while feigning  concern for future security; it’s a goddamn masterpiece.

Luckily for those of us who are justifiably upset about this and have chosen to keep an open mind on our Star-crossed transient whistleblower,Snowden, we can look to an excellent piece by John Tirman; the piece Zakaria should have written.  In it, Tirman states that what Snowden has revealed is nothing less than a quiet coup:

“The revelations about spying by the National Security Agency (NSA) on American citizens, foreign governments, and just about everyone in between have been aptly treated as a scandal, although the objects of scorn vary. Edward Snowden, the whistleblower or traitor, depending on your predilections, and Glenn Greenwald, the columnist for The Guardian to whomSnowden revealed most of his information, have shaken the complacent status quo in Washington by revealing the massive, years-long programs to gather data in the name of national security. It’s very doubtful that such spying is necessary to protect U.S. security, but that’s a topic for another day. So is the media attention to the actions of Snowden and Greenwald (which I believe are brave and necessary).

What is vastly more important is how the spying has been conducted and justified. It comprises nothing less than a coup d’etat.”

Where Zakaria should have observed the reality of our situation, he decided to appeal to claims of Snowden’s cowardice (which is a logical fallacy) rather than the damming evidence about what our government is doing behind the scenes and without our approval.  I’m afraid Zakaria would have failed the business ethics class that I took in grad school, because the first thing they taught us there was that whistleblowers put themselves in tremendous danger by coming out, exposing frauds, crooks and in this case, crimes that break our own and international law.  I’m afraid Zakaria is no hero of journalism.

Confronting the question of whether or not Snowden should have stayed at home and waited for the welcoming committee is up for debate.  Personally I think he was behaving more like Patton than King, knowing that it is highly unlikely that he would find a truly fair trial in his own country.  So Mr. Zakaria, I can quote great people too:

“No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.” – George S. Patton

In this context, I think Snowden has a justifiable right to desire to live another day to have his story heard; to fight the good fight by living another day.  For instance, if today he was behind bars he would not be able to tell us what he is going through and we wouldn’t see the tremendous internationally illegal activity our government is going through still to get to him like he has today:

I believe in the principle declared at Nuremberg in 1945: “Individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience. Therefore individual citizens have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity from occurring.”

Accordingly, I did what I believed right and began a campaign to correct this wrongdoing. I did not seek to enrich myself. I did not seek to sell US secrets. I did not partner with any foreign government to guarantee my safety. Instead, I took what I knew to the public, so what affects all of us can be discussed by all of us in the light of day, and I asked the world for justice.

That moral decision to tell the public about spying that affects all of us has been costly, but it was the right thing to do and I have no regrets.”

What we as a society choose to accept right here and now will have repercussions possibly for generations to come, so the question is, “Will we take this lightly?  Will we take the information Snowden gave us, then shame him like Zakaria has, or do we watch and wait before we see who is the hero and who is the villain?”  I suppose the answer is up to you, dear Disinfonauts.  As always, you decide.

You may find the full article from TIME HERE.

You may find John Tirman’s Huffington Post article HERE.

You may find Edward Snowden’s most recent press release HERE.



Gabriel Roberts

Gabriel D. Roberts is a theological scholar, researcher and public speaker that specializes in discussions about the nature of perception and belief. After 27 years of passionate searching and study, Gabriel stepped away from his long held Christian faith into a more expansive and fluid worldview.The details and reasons are catalogued in his book, Born Again To Rebirth.Like many others who have had an earnest thirst for the answers to the big questions of life, Gabriel was not satisfied to settle for not knowing more.His latest book, The Quest For Gnosis explores the roots of belief, the power of the ecstatic state in one’s spiritual life and the means by which a deeply satisfying spiritual life may be achieved outside of the bonds of dogma.Within The Quest For Gnosis, Gabriel interviews 20 of the brightest minds in this field of study, including Dr. Rupert Sheldrake, Graham Hancock, Daniele Bolelli, Peter J. Carroll, Hamilton Morris, Dr. Aaron Cheak, David Metcalfe, Dr. Rick Strassman and many more.

Gabriel writes for VICE Magazine, and and is the author of three books. He is continuing his research at the University of Washington in his hometown of Tacoma, WA.

10 Comments on "Snowden & Zakaria: Shaming The Whistleblower"

  1. Just a Voice | Jul 13, 2013 at 10:42 am |

    Typical corporate media point of view, another Lieutenant of the compliant press who across the board has spoken off the same “hymn sheet”…

    Amazing to see this of the so called “free press”, who glorifies anything like this elsewhere in the world, but as soon as it touches America, they cower with fear that if they step of line, “things happen”.

    If Snowden ever came back to America, he will be treated exactly the same as Bradley Manning, being a civilian does not make any difference, there will a trial, of course he will be guilty, decision has already made made.

    American media is not free, it is compliant.

    A real sorry state-of affairs……

  2. Bluebird_of_Fastidiousness | Jul 13, 2013 at 10:59 am |

    Tellingly, there is no comment section to this article on the Time website. If you mosy on down to the Entertainment section though, feel free to express your opinion about Lady Gaga or social media’s influence on Sharknado.

  3. Anarchy Pony | Jul 13, 2013 at 11:25 am |

    Right cause after they stuffed Manning down in solitary for what was it? Three fucking years? And that was before he ever even went to trial! I’m sure everybody would totally be willing to tell the truth about the surveillance state and military industrial complex and accept their punishment. Fuck you Zakaria, you fucking tool.

    • emperorreagan | Jul 13, 2013 at 11:48 am |

      Doubly so because the focus on Snowden (or Manning, or Assange, or anyone else) is completely missing the point and playing the game the government wants to play. The government isn’t the bad guy, it’s these guys who broke the law!!

      • Anarchy Pony | Jul 13, 2013 at 12:05 pm |

        God I hate the fuckers that tow that line.

        • Maybe they know they ought to be ashamed themselves, even though they’re too antisocial to actually experience shame. They always have some nice excuse or justification for their own behavior… “I did it to save America… protect democracy… promote liberty… blah blah blah.”

          When’s the last time you heard one of them stand up and say… “I lied, tortured and murdered because I just get off on that shit, and I made some money too, and I’m proud to stand up and say that I’m a vicious, slimey asshole and I’ll accept the consequences of my actions?”

          like… never

  4. gustave courbet | Jul 15, 2013 at 11:07 am |

    Zakaria should have asked Daniel Ellsberg for his opinion before citing his case. Ellsberg himself said that Snowden did the right thing and that America has changed since he blew the whistle. Ellsberg was released on bail while he awaited trial. Could we expect the same treatment for Snowden?

  5. happypedro | Jul 15, 2013 at 12:37 pm |

    Fareed is a pathological mouthpiece for the growing police state in the USA. The slick “argument” he puts forward here is so Orwellian it´s like he´s smearing BS all over himself and then joyfully declaring it sparkles beautifully. Snowden did and is doing exactly what MLK desribes.

  6. Toggle Switch | Jan 16, 2014 at 11:27 pm |

    ….there are so many lies and liars on the net these days it’s really difficult to tell posters apart…..after a while, reading responses to posts becomes a jumble of wrong information. Every gov’t agency with a hidden agenda and most corporations have a gang of disinformation agents to interrupt and change topics they don’t want to see focus on. Most internet users don’t have the ability to see the trolls unless they are really bad at their jobs.
    There are a lot of good ones out there. They can be spotted by their tactic of minimizing and going on the attack about one point that eventually leads the thread off topic. They blatantly deny what you are trying to say and love to throw words like “scientific” at you. Usually saying that your information isn’t scientific and trying to enlist any posters following the thread. They will often play the patriot card and use ‘merican propaganda to sway the topic further. The end result of their work is to throw everybody off the trail of truth by distorting the facts enough so that most followers can’t be sure of anything.

    If you follow discussions regularly you can eventually see how they work and what tactics are. If you are interested enough, do some research on the topic from several sources and make certain that you know the story well before posting anything that will make the government or some corporation look bad. I can practically guarantee you that you will attract the attention of a pack of trolls… be prepared to defend your position and don’t back down once you’ve started.

  7. Jonas Planck | Jan 19, 2014 at 1:23 am |

    …So it is therefore our duty to shame the propagandists so hard that THEY will question the wisdom of doing what THEY do. Let the liars and PR men live in fear for a change… let them wonder if the paycheck is worth the price, if it’s worth getting trolled into a corner and nailed to the wall with their own hypocrisy. Let the channels of discourse swell with serious discussions of whether or not mainstream news reporters and journalists have sexual relations with farm animals, let us speculate on their motivations for doing what they do: Are they being blackmailed into it by the powers that be? What horrible crimes have they committed to facilitate such extortion?
    …If we must attack the messenger, we should at least attack those messengers that are LYING to us.

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