Recently during a global politics class, my peers and I had a discussion focused on how someone who is considered to be a terrorist by one group of people might actually be considered a freedom fighter to others.
Consider the revolutions of the past, the civil wars and the social rioting during times of conflict. Who are these people? They blatantly commit crimes without any sort of remorse for government. They cause controversies and bash public officials. They vandalize property. Some go to the extent of injuring or even murdering others. But here is where the difficult question comes. What is their motive? Is it for the better good of the people, or is it a violation against their country and overall morality?
Now consider Edward Snowden. As a former member of the CIA and contractor for the National Security Agency, he had access to some of the most confidential documents in America. Secrets about how the government functioned, actions that were being committed, programs that were being put together, these were all at his fingertips.
While the issues that these documents covered were considered to be top secret, Snowden found it difficult to keep them hidden from the public as he recognized what sort of injustices they involved. So following his belief that the public had the right to know “that which is done in their name and that which is done against them,” Snowden leaked the information to countries all over the world.
The documents exposed hundreds of thousands of controversial political actions. Such information included the surveillance of individuals personal Google and Yahoo accounts, emails, text messages, phone records and Internet usage. Not only was this information taken without permission or authority, but these programs also have the ability to view the private lives of any person at any place at any time. That includes both you and I, yet we’d never even know the difference.
However, along with these controversial topics being exposed, many of the documents that were leaked to the public by Snowden actually contained a substantial amount of information regarding the details of U.S. military operations. Because of this it has been argued that, by leaking the information, Snowden has endangered the lives of those included and therefore is considered by many a traitor.
Despite the allegations made against him, Snowden has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize by two Norwegian politicians. For those who consider Snowden to be a criminal, this could have come as a surprise. If that is the case, I can’t help but ask, if your opinion would be different if you were the one whose privacy was being invaded.
Our country was built on a firm belief in democracy and the right every individual has to liberty. We fled from the corruption of a repressive monarchy and strived to create an honest government “by the people, for the people”. Yet here we are today with valid evidence that our own government has intruded on the personal lives of its people, and America has the audacity to accuse the man of being a traitor?
I believe wholeheartedly that the actions of Edward Snowden were of good intentions and in the name of justice and liberty. He brought the unconstitutional actions of our government to the public, despite the consequences he knew he would face, due to his belief that we have the right to know that which our government does. Therefore, Snowden is absolutely deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize. He gave our country a reason to demand change. He gave us a motive to step up and let the government know that those freedoms that are our natural born rights are not available for others to violate. These beliefs are what democracy was built on. So until our country begins to live by those values again, consider this: is what we consider freedom truly free, or is it actually blissful ignorance?