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article imageOp-Ed: More Obama hypocrisy on the Snowden affair

By David Delmar     Aug 10, 2013 in Politics
Throughout his five years in office, President Obama’s garrulous rhetoric has typically lacked substance. Not much has changed.
However, this past Friday, he managed to do something characteristic uncharacteristically (at this point, anything new from the celebrity president is welcomed). He gave a substantive, honest speech that rolled back the outward liberal façade and revealed the stereotypical Chicago politician that lay beneath. It is a commentary in itself on the state of things that I managed to appreciate his candor despite reviling his sentiments.
Their essence is fairly simple: the Obama Administration is going to reform the NSA’s surveillance practices in light of the public's ambivalence (and Obama's falling approval ratings).
Obama was careful to say, however, that Edward Snowden, who at age 24 was driven by conscientious objection to expose the government’s secret, unconstitutional surveillance of American citizens, is no patriot. Snowden’s not-so-outrageous hope was that his sacrifice might be the purchase price for democratic deliberation. To what extent is society willing to sacrifice liberty for security (that Hobson’s exchange which Benjamin Franklin once argued makes a population deserving of neither)?
Before Edward Snowden, Americans were completely in the dark about Big Brother’s activities ostensibly done on their behalf. Thus, democratic deliberation was impossible.
And here’s a question for you: how can Obama maintain a straight face while standing on a podium simultaneously promising reform of the NSA’s intrusive surveillance activities and lambasting the man whose courage was responsible for such reform in the first place?
In a moment of overwhelming condescension, the president stood before the American people and said “we have to strike the right balance between protecting our security and preserving our freedoms.” He forgot to apologize for keeping the NSA’s conduct secret—a practice which, until its termination by Snowden, ensured that the public would have no input as to what this “balance” should be.
Obama then stupidly declared that Snowden, whose only “crime” was to fulfill the president’s broken (perhaps shattered is a more appropriate word?) promise of transparency should return to the US and face trial if he truly believes that what he did was “right.” A former lawyer, the president surely knows that trial is not a contest over what is “right,” but rather whether the accused did or did not violate the law. Thus, to call his banter “hot air” would be too grateful. With these unctuous words, Obama hopes to co-opt the support of Americans who might conflate the two, and, on the strength of that mistake, mindlessly repeat the common mantra that Snowden is a coward for “running away.”
More than a few times I have confronted the fatuous disposition that if Snowden had not run away, his actions might be supportable. How, I have wondered, is this a relevant point for distinction? Am I to believe that the propriety of a sacrificial act hinges on whether the selfless party meekly accepts punishment or tries, as anyone would, to avoid it? The logic of power is indeed curious.
The president, who assured us again and again during his campaign that he would bring transparency to the business of government, and that whistleblowers whose selflessness contributes to that end are courageous and patriotic, is now contradicting his words entirely. But he is not the coward. A man who seeks asylum to avoid imprisonment for the "crime" of performing a public service—he is the coward. Can this nonsense be believed?
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Nsa, National security agency, edward snowden, Bradley Manning, President obama
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