I am sure that most of our American readers are familiar with Paul Revere's Midnight Ride. As the story goes, Revere was to inform the sexton of a church in the Concord, Massachusetts area as to whether British troops were coming by land or sea (actually, the Charles River). The sexton was then to shine one or two lanterns to alert the citizens in the neighboring town of Charlestown. Revere was then to ride through the countryside warning friendly colonists along the way.
I mention this historic tale in reference to something currently in the news. Democratic Senators Ron Wyden (OR) and Mark Udall (CO) are being hailed by some because they have tried to warn citizens for years that something wasn't kosher about the NSA's various surveillance programs.
In my book, neither warrants being called a hero. Their so-called "warnings" were always vague and never included anything specific. When faced with protecting classified secrets versus defending the US Constitution, both chose the former. Even though both men indicated that they believed the US Constitution was being violated, neither showed the courage nor fortitude to stand up tall to tell the American people what the hell was going on. No, such courage was shown by Edward Snowden, not them!
Since Wyden has taken the lead on this issue, I thought I would illustrate this situation by replacing Paul Revere with him. Thus, that historic event might have gone something like this.
When Ron Wyden received the secret information from operatives, he decided to change plans. He went to the church of the sexton and stood up in the bell tower and yelled over and over again, "Somebody is coming. Somebody is coming." After a while, he attracted the attention of some area townspeople who came to the church to ask him some questions.
Wyden: Somebody is coming! Somebody is coming!
Person #1: Are the British troops coming?
Wyden: I didn't say it was the British. All I said is "someone."
Person #2: Okay, so who IS this someone?
Wyden: I am not at liberty to divulge that information.
Person #2: What do you mean by that?
Wyden: I mean, I can't tell you.
Person #3: Can you at least tell us if it is friend or foe?
Wyden: It is one or the other.
Person #1: What good is it to know if "somebody is coming" if you won't tell us who it is?
Wyden: Look, I'd really like to tell you, but I just can't.
Person #4: Can't you give us a little hint?
Wyden: Hmm. I can tell you that the someone who is coming is not currently here. Satisfied?
Person #3: What kind of answer is that! Of course, the people who are coming aren't here. If they were already here, then they wouldn't be coming!
Person #1: Can you tell us why they are coming?
Wyden: Sorry, but I can't tell you that either.
Person #2: Great! Somebody -- whose identity we don't know -- is coming and we don't know why this unknown somebody is coming.
Wyden: True, but you do know that somebody IS coming.
Person #1: Is this coming imminent, like tomorrow, or is it more like a few days from now?
Wyden: It could be in a few hours...or it could be next month.
Person #3: Well, which is it?
Wyden: I'm not at liberty to say.
Person #4: Could you at least tell us if this somebody is coming by land or water?
Wyden: I think it's one or the other, but it could be both.
Person #5: Alright. Let me see if I have this straight. Some unknown person or persons who are not here now is/are coming. You won't tell us when this somebody is coming. You won't tell us why this somebody is coming and you won't tell us how this somebody is coming. All you will tell is that somebody is coming.
Wyden: Yes! You've got it. I just wanted to warn you all that somebody is coming, so you wouldn't be caught off guard.
The townspeople decided that Wyden had consumed too much ale. They dispersed and went back to their homes. When the British troops showed up the next day, everyone was caught off guard. The rebellious colonist leaders were put in the stockade and the rebellion never recovered. Many generations later -- in 2012 -- one of Wyden's descendants was elected to the House of Commons as a representative of the North American British Colonies.