Snowden Deserves the Presidential Medal of Freedom
Did you know that half of the bill of rights were intentionally designed to hamper the government's ability to exercise power and conduct surveillance? Notably, the 4th, 5th, 7th, and 8th amendments. If you support the Patriot Act, you are not a patriot. Like Orwell's Ministries of Love, Peace, Plenty, and Truth, the Patriot Act was created to do the exact opposite of what the original patriots (the founding fathers) would have wanted. The fourth amendment says,
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.
But today? Thanks to the Patriot Act, the government has every paper (electronic) you ever wrote. They know exactly where you go. They know everything you bought (everything in your house). There is no part of the 4th Amendment that the government has not already violated. No warrant. No probable cause. Everything you ever did has already been searched. Everything you ever did is now in a database somewhere.
Edward Snowden wrote, "We are building the greatest tool for oppression the world has ever known."
In 2013, the IRS admitted to and apologized for unfairly scrutinizing groups, "based on their political leanings when they sought a tax-exempt status, court documents showed."
This should have been a bigger scandal than it was. But the reason I bring it up is not to air old dirty laundry but simply to note that the temptation to use government to destroy political opponents is not something of the distant past. That was Obama that did that. That was less than a decade ago.
Now.... imagine that you had everything your political enemy ever did in his or her life. What if you knew everywhere that enemy went. Everything they ever did. Everything they ever bought. Everything they ever searched.
You don't think there would be a temptation to dig through that? Of course there would be. The thing with this sort of temptation is how self righteous it is. How important is it to you that your political party wins? For most people, it is incredibly important. The whole future of our nation - from civil rights to judges to tax law to war - rests on the next election... right? And you have a way to do something to change it? You have the data right in front of you..... and you do nothing?
It is a huge temptation.
And this is what the Founding Fathers feared. The overwhelming temptation of those in power to use searches and surveillance to achieve their ends. And this is exactly what we gave up in the days after 9/11.
Maybe we stopped terror. Maybe we saved lives. I have no idea. Maybe not ..... we didn't have a major terror attack in our whole history prior to 9/11 but maybe there were more coming. But what did we give up in exchange? Half the Bill of Rights.... at least. If some foreign power tried to destroy the bill of rights, we would have happily sent millions to war to protect it. But because terrorists killed 3000, we willingly set half of the rights aside. We now give more power to the government than the founding fathers could have even imagined. More than has ever been given to any government in history. What a disaster.
And Edward Snowden is the one that rang the bell. He is the one that told us what was going on. He currently hides in Russia because he cared more about the constitution than we did. Trump said he should be killed. Obama refused to pardon him. But I think he deserves the presidential medal of freedom. The presidential medal seeks to recognize those people who have made "an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors." Who has done more for our national interests than Snowden?