The NSA Scandal du jour has everybody wondering the same thing: how does this latest whistleblower differ from Private Bradley Manning the “Wikileaks” Army drone gave up American secrets out of a professed act of conscience?
Bradley Manning is a diminutive and admittedly low-level grunt formerly employed by the United States Army. He was empowered to operate certain computers in the Army and upon becoming dissatisfied with his treatment as a homosexual while in service to his country, took revenge on the system, (allegedly) and released thousands of SECRET and possibly TOP SECRET communications to Julian Assange who then started to launch the information across the Internet at an alarming rate and speed of delivery. Edward Snowden, the whistleblower behind the NSA security breach is a 29 year old intelligence analyst who was under oath to preserve and protect the secrets he was privy to while in the employ of the United States National Security Agency (NSA).
Both of these governmental employees spoke and took oaths stating they would NOT endanger the people of the United States by releasing information they were specifically privy to in the scope of their employment. Both appear to have violated this oath willfully and willingly and without any right to do so.
So what do we do with people who take oaths to preserve and protect the United States Constitution and its secret communications and acts based on the acquisition of those communications when they take it upon themselves to violate the oath out of an act of conscience?
You prosecute. It’s specifically against the Espionage Act of 1917. This act made it a crime:
“to convey information with intent to interfere with the operation or success of the armed forces of the United States or to promote the success of its enemies. This was punishable by death or imprisonment for not more than 30 years or both. In addition to this it became illegal to convey false reports or false statements with intent to interfere with the operation or success of the military or naval forces of the United States or to promote the success of its enemies when the United States is at war, to cause or attempt to cause insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, refusal of duty, in the military or naval forces of the United States, or to willfully obstruct the recruiting or enlistment service of the United States. This was punishable by a maximum fine of $10,000 or by imprisonment for not more than 20 years or both.
The Act also gave the Postmaster General authority to impound or to refuse to mail publications that he determined to be in violation of its prohibitions.”
– Wikipedia 2013
When you state your oath of office upon enlistment in the armed forces of this country it’s explained in no uncertain terms the meaning of the oath and the consequences enforceable by the government against you should you violate that oath. You sign the contract and supposedly know the consequences of not keeping faith with that oath AND WITH THE COUNTRY YOU ARE SWEARING TO PROTECT AND DEFEND.
This isn’t a simple employment contract like going to work for IBM ®, Google®, Apple® or Microsoft®.
You’ll notice there’s a registered trademark symbol behind each of the four major corporations’ readily recognizable names. This action is because they have registered their names as trademarks and occasionally as service marks. I, as a writer am required to put this symbol [ ® ] after their name to prevent a suit for copyright, patent and trademark infringement. I could lose the case and be forced to pay a severe civil monetary penalty for violating their rights. You know this when you go to work for them.
The same goes for violating the oath you take to defend the United States from ALL enemies foreign and domestic. When you have a pain in your conscience concerning the Army, the CIA, the NSA or any other intelligence gathering operation you can quit your job and go work someplace else. But you must still keep your mouth shut because you, in your low-level grunt cubicle, have no idea of the ultimate ramifications and consequences of your actions as they’re applied throughout the real world.
These guys should be prosecuted for violating the oaths they willingly took in order to earn a living and learn greater skills in their field. They were formally warned of these potential consequences. They should be sentenced to extended prison sentences as a warning to others considering the same actions.
“Men are not hanged for stealing horses, but that horses may not be stolen”
– Edward Halifax
Thanks for listening.