Hero or Traitor?

by Dong-Le on September 2, 2013 - 10:33pm

This article introduces former NSA agent and whistle-blower Edward Snowden who leaked the truth about the massive surveillance program of Americans by the NSA and CIA. This controversial case picked my attention in what is the righteous way to protect one’s own country.  He might look as he has committed a crime against his own country by betraying the notorious NSA and CIA. However, what make its country are actually its people, and they are being watched unwillingly by the NSA and CIA.

Therefore, is Snowden really a traitor?

 Indeed, lying to your own people would make you a traitor itself. The people have the right to know what is going on, and most importantly, they have the right to privacy which is a fundamental human right. I, for one, wouldn’t want to be spied on without any valid reason to connect me to potential threat to my country. On the other hand, Snowden has sworn to keep secrecy to protect his country that one could say has its people’s best interest. Perhaps, this massive surveillance program is righteous in the sense that it could have been the only way to ensure the best security since the 9/11 catastrophe. Nonetheless, even if it would have been the best plan against terrorism, its application should have been approved by the mass first to ensure that the right to privacy of Americans is not disregarded.

This brings to this following question: is the notion of security more important for a country than its people’s right to privacy? 



This topic caught my attention because it is a similar topic as the blog I had posted earlier. I had explained that many people in Canada accept the government to spy on them for safety measures. Knowing that most Canadians and Americans have similar cultural values, I would have expected the reaction towards Snowden’s information leak to be different. What attracted me to this blog was how the population reacted towards the newly revealed information: the Americans tend towards calling Snowden a Hero than a Traitor.

One of the questions that are raised here is if we should rather prioritize security or privacy. In my opinion, I would rather prioritize my security. By spying on people, the government has a better control over the criminal acts committed by the population. The government also has a faster method to catching any terrorists, radicals and other dangerous criminals. Compromising privacy is a small price to pay to live a safe life.

Following this, the main question in the blog is if Snowden is really a traitor or not. I would think that he is a real traitor because no matter what, he had betrayed his confidentiality with the NSA. Although his intentions were good, he did not honor the discretion of his own country’s government. This is not acceptable because the government did not harm any of its citizens by spying on them; on the contrary, they wanted to protect its population from any other terrorist attacks such as the 9/11 tragedy. Now that people are aware of this, terrorists will find other methods to communicate with each other and to build their plans, making it harder to the US government to track any harmful leads in advance. Snowden's revealing can compromise the safety of the population.

In the blog post above, the fundamental right of privacy has been brought up as an argument. I do understand the importance of privacy. However, the government will only act upon the information they find if it presents a threat to the population. If not, the information remains confidential. Therefore, the privacy of he citizens is still intact, as long as there are not criminal acts being committed. Hence, all of our everyday browsing and exchange of information will not be affected because the government is not interested in such material.

The following site brings to light the opinion of the Canadian population about this matter.

I think your article is quite short and too simplistic for the complexity of the issue. However, you touch a good point when saying that people should have the final word in allowing the government to spy on them or not for ''security'' purposes. It is a hard to draw a line between privacy, liberty and security. In my opinion, I think we should limit the surveillance program strictly to dangerous individuals with certain patterns rather than the general public because privacy is more important than security. In Canada, we are facing a similar situation as the government is now passing a bill to fight terrorism, which is against some freedom rights. I sincerely hope they will limit their surveillance program and be clear on the objectives of it. The population should always be informed and it will be interesting to see how they security agencies will employ the new laws.

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