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Edward Snowden and the Divergence of Law and Principle — 5 Comments

  1. It is important that anyone practicing civil disobedience demonstrate that he is one of “us” rather than simply a free-lance spy. Snowden is doing great damage to his cause by running away and giving away secrets that are arguably not relevant to the principles he is supposedly defending.

    IMO, he must be prosecuted, for the reasons I outline here:

    My problem with the “media shield” law is that it implies that the congress has power to enact a “shield” in an area of law where it should be impotent. This is a step backward, not forward. Our reps do not seem to understand the difference between recognizing that they do not have power versus “limiting” a power by statute that they do not properly hold.

  2. Good analysis of the growing gap between law and principle, fed by legislators in Congress who dance to a tune played by special interests. Today’s Economist article supports Snowden’s whistleblowing as natural outcome of government overreach, and disparages David Brooks in NYT on 6/13 who argues that Snowden’s self-centeredness relects a growing individualism and liberatarian trends that undermine community, shared values. Yet Brooks’ communitarian critique is compelling. Principles have roots in communities.

    • Community is important. The entire country is too large for community, but it needs some shared values. Since the 1960s the only value that has been agreed upon is pluralism, and as Ken Wilber points out in “Boomeritis,” that value is an inadequate basis for decision-making. This further allows special interests, which have their own non-communtarian goals to manipulate the system. Genuine community needs to be at an interpersonal level, not a bureaucratic one.

  3. Another intelligent and thoughtful article by Gordon.

    Regarding Edward Snowden, the question which confuses everyone at this point is this: is he a hero or a traitor?

    The following two things (among many other ones) make me uncomfortable:

    1. The man has taken refuge in China (okay, Hong Kong. That’s still China). In view of the inescapable fact that China is bound to become America’s greatest geopolitical competitor and the greatest threat to American interests, Snowden’s behavior borders on consorting with the enemy. I wish he had taken refuge in, say, Iceland, or Holland, or Malta…

    2. Traditionally, the lines are clearly drawn: Men like Snowden are supported by the “left,” the ACLU, etc., and vehemently attacked by the flag-waving, patriotic “right.” Now, all of a sudden, the roles are somewhat reversed, only because this is happening under President Obama’s watch. It is not logical that the people at Fox would suddenly turn into civil libertarians.

    These comments are in no way a criticism of Gordon’s excellent and non-partisan article.

  4. A thoughtful article could be written that compares the cases of Bradley Manning, Edward Snowden, and Julius Rosenburg. How were their respective cases different? What did they share in common, if anything?

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