Today I will be sharing and commenting on Edward Snowden's recent statement issued from Moscow on Friday. The full statement can be read at the WikiLeaks website.
Hello. My name is Ed Snowden. A little over one month ago, I had family, a home in paradise, and I lived in great comfort. I also had the capability without any warrant to search for, seize, and read your communications. Anyone’s communications at any time. That is the power to change people’s fates.
It is also a serious violation of the law. The 4th and 5th Amendments to the Constitution of my country, Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and numerous statutes and treaties forbid such systems of massive, pervasive surveillance. While the US Constitution marks these programs as illegal, my government argues that secret court rulings, which the world is not permitted to see, somehow legitimize an illegal affair. These rulings simply corrupt the most basic notion of justice – that it must be seen to be done. The immoral cannot be made moral through the use of secret law.
I believe in the principle declared at Nuremberg in 1945: "Individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience. Therefore individual citizens have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity from occurring."
Accordingly, I did what I believed right and began a campaign to correct this wrongdoing. I did not seek to enrich myself. I did not seek to sell US secrets. I did not partner with any foreign government to guarantee my safety. Instead, I took what I knew to the public, so what affects all of us can be discussed by all of us in the light of day, and I asked the world for justice.
That moral decision to tell the public about spying that affects all of us has been costly, but it was the right thing to do and I have no regrets.
The big question many people are asking themselves is: Is it ever warranted to break one or more laws to expose far greater criminality?
The Obama administration, most members of Congress and the vast majority of the mainstream media seem to believe that such exposure -- if it violates one or more domestic laws -- is never warranted...unless, of course, it glorifies the system. In that case, they have no qualms about it all! If, on the other hand, it exposes rampant wrongdoing of the powers that be, then it is unconscionable.
Unsurprisingly, I completely agree with the brave Mr. Snowden. The laws he broke were established predominantly to shield the wrongdoing of the executive branch. They were not constructed to protect freedom and democracy, but the precise opposite.
Regardless of the laws he may have broken, Ed Snowden has acted morally and ethically. He stood up for truth, fairness and justice. He has shown a light on activities that have been operating in the dark -- activities that go against our own foundational document -- the US Constitution -- as well as our own domestic laws AND international ones as well.
If his actions aren't moral and ethical, then what is?