Lindsey Graham wants him “follow[ed] to the ends of the earth”; Ron Paul worries that he might be targeted for an Obama drone strike; and Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) called him “a traitor.”
With this kind of reception, it’s little wonder that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden remains safely (for now) ensconced in his Hong Kong hideaway, waiting for asylum or for the climate to improve at home.
In Snowden’s case, however, absence is not making the hearts of some grow fonder.
On top of the threats and calumny coming from those who should be defending the rights guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment rather than persecuting someone who exposes their violation, Fox News now takes a sideways shot at Snowden, suggesting he might be a Chinese double agent. A Fox News story reports:
Gordon Chang, author of “The Coming Collapse of China,” thinks there’s a strong possibility Snowden could be playing for both sides.
“The first clue is that he goes to Hong Kong and they have an extradition agreement with the U.S. and a tradition of close cooperation of law enforcement,” Chang told Fox. “That means, the only thing that stands between him and a lifetime in a super-max prison is Beijing.”
Going further in their Establishment-shilling effort to make Snowden the story rather than the revelation of the government’s brazen disregard for the Constitution and the participation of some of the country’s largest corporations in the construction of the surveillance state, Fox continues the tale:
Chang also says the timing of Snowden’s disclosures are [sic] suspect.
“He changed the global narrative of China hacking into the U.S. to the American government going after one of its own,” Chang said.
The first of Snowden’s disclosures came right before President Obama met with new Chinese President Xi Jinping.
“That really derailed Obama’s whole talk about cyber security,” he said, adding, “the most recent revelations have been about operational details of the NSA spying on Hong Kong and China. This only helps Beijing.”
Chang says it’s likely Snowden went public with his claims because he was tipped off that the NSA was on to him.
On and on the character assassination goes. While Fox allows the charges of espionage (read: treason) to come from the mouth of Chang, they take their own shots at Snowden, as well.
In the story, Fox News reminds readers of the “facts,” including the charge that Snowden “looked at documents he wasn’t supposed to see.” Then, they solidify their case by revealing that “Snowden’s background isn’t squeaky clean.”
What is this crime that sullied Snowden’s background? According to the super-clean sleuths at Fox News, “During the eight years that he worked as a contractor for the Central Intelligence Agency and NSA, he routinely went online and ranted against corporations and citizen surveillance.”
He complained about the government’s unconstitutional surveillance of citizens and the corporate collusion that makes the deprivation of privacy even more insidious and insuperable.
To bolster their case against Snowden, Fox News props up another witness for the prosecution, none other than the gun-running, wiretapping attorney general himself, Eric Holder. The Fox News story quotes Holder saying during an appearance in Dublin, Ireland:
The national security of the United States has been damaged as a result those leaks. The safety of the American people and the safety of people who reside in allied nations have been put at risk as a result of these leaks. We are presently in the process of that investigation, and I'm confident the person who is responsible will be held accountable.
Fox News’ next witness is the head of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), an organization identified by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as the “mother ship” of the State Department and one of the United States’ primary sources of foreign policy marching orders. Fox reports:
Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations recently tweeted, “Why is the media using sympathetic word ‘whistleblower’ for Edward #Snowden, who leaked secret #NSA program? He broke the law & made us less safe.”
He added, “A ‘whistleblower’ is person who reveals wrongdoing, corruption, illegal activity. None of this applies here even if you oppose US (government) policy.”
One is tempted to ask how Edward Snowden’s unmasking of unconstitutional wholesale surveillance has made the United States “less safe,” but again, even asking that question is falling for the Fox News trick.
As for Haass’ definition of whistleblower, to constitutionalists who view the surreptitious shredding of the Bill of Rights as wrong, corrupt, and evil, no other comment is necessary.
Fox News, though, feels compelled to pile on Snowden and try him on cable news in order to do its patriotic duty.
“The new information released by Reuters and Time magazine about Snowden’s employment record, online postings and education come[s] during a time when U.S. lawmakers are demanding answers from intelligence officials on how Snowden, a high-school dropout, got his hands on the country’s top secret programs,” the story says.
If Fox News — the ostensible “conservative” news network — legitimately cared about this country (the definition of patriotism), then it should dig into its deep pockets and devote those impressive resources to demolishing the federal government’s unconstitutional Panopticon until every brick is detached from the other and all that remains is a shameful pile of rubble.
What their story and others like it do, however, is to serve as critical misdirection allowing the federal government to make fundamental rights disappear.
Perhaps the editors and other decision makers at Fox should have read the op-ed written by Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), published just two days before the attack on Snowden’s character. On June 12, Senator Paul wrote:
In the United States, we are supposed to have a government that is limited with its parameters established by our Constitution. This notion that the federal government can monitor everyone's phone data is a major departure from how Americans have traditionally viewed the role of government.
If this is acceptable practice, as the White House and many in both parties now say it is, then there are literally no constitutional protections that can be guaranteed anymore to citizens.
In the name of security, say our leaders, the Constitution has become negotiable.
But those who continue to defend the National Security Agency's actions are essentially saying that something that would be controversial even as an exception — blanket phone trolling by the government — is now the new rule. They are saying it's OK to spy on citizens' phone data without a warrant, not just one time or a few times, but all the time.
They are saying that suspending the Bill of Rights is now the new normal.
In my world, the Constitution still applies.
If the Constitution is to continue to apply, citizens must maintain their close watch on the eyes of government whose sleight of hand is making our rights no more than an illusion.
As the stories from the government’s mainstream media mouthpieces attacking Snowden continue to multiply, readers would be wise to remind themselves that Snowden isn’t the story. The story is the indisputable fact that the Obama administration unapologetically carries on unconstitutional surveillance of millions of Americans in open and hostile violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.
Photo of news program of Edward Snowden on big-screen TV monitor in Hong Kong: AP Images