In the early weeks of June 2013, Edward Snowden, an employee of Booz Allen Hamilton, leaked classified National Security Agency (NSA) documents to notable newspapers including The Washington Post and The Guardian. Subsequently, Snowden fled the country. The information he released to the newspaper demonstrated that the United States government was collecting bulk phone and email data from United States citizens via large companies including but not limited to Verizon, Google, and Facebook (Meyer, 2013). This news angered millions of Americans for various reasons. Some Americans believed Snowden was a traitor that revealed American secrets. Others believed Snowden was a hero that rightfully identified a United States wrongdoing. Instantly this became a large-scale debate and a clear injustice. Though an argument exists that Snowden committed the injustice, I insist the United States government is largely at fault and should provide a remedy to both Snowden and the people of the United States.
Granted the United States’ Constitution does not grant citizens with the explicit right to privacy, the evolution of statues and court cases have created an implicit right to privacy. Whether it is freedom from unreasonable searches/seizures or a case like Griswold v. Connecticut, privacy rights have increasingly gained importance in United States history. Snowden’s actions helped reveal the process and statues, which granted the NSA the ability to obtain unlimited data from U.S. citizens. Due to the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the FBI and NSA were able to collect virtually unlimited and unconstrained information ranging from call duration, calling card numbers and incoming/terminating numbers (Greenwald, 2013). On top of that, the manner in which the NSA obtained authority to access information was extremely secretive. Secrets are undoubtedly a part of the U.S. government but as these secrets intrude on our believed rights, like privacy, it becomes unacceptable to the American people.
As Julian Sanchez, a surveillance expert explained, “We've certainly seen the government increasingly strain the bounds of 'relevance' to collect large numbers of records at once (Greenwald, 2013).” Going behind the American people’s backs and simultaneously invading people’s privacy is unacceptable by the United States government. This becomes a huge justice issue for the American people as the NSA, White House, and Department of Justice all declined to comment (Greenwald, 2013). The United States government clearly violated people’s rights and their refusal to admit wrongdoing to the United States citizens is a clear injustice.
Another injustice done is to Edward Snowden himself. Even though Snowden is a whistleblower, he revealed an injustice of the United States that could have gone undetected for years. He educated the American people about the wrong doings of our country. In no way, shape or form did he endanger the safety of the United States or aid our enemies. For just over a half of year, Snowden has been hiding out in China and Russia seeking a safe haven and ways to continue his life. Leaving the United States was his only option to continuing his life in freedom. If Snowden did not act on the violations he saw, who would?
Snowden risked his career, family, and life for the sake of the American people. The actions of the NSA were arguably a threat to the United States system of government. Rather than treat Snowden as a criminal, the United States should bring Snowden in, correct the wrongdoings, and if feasible allow Snowden a new life in the United States. Whether it is our classmates, co-workers, or acquaintances, it is important to educate those around us about what the NSA and U.S. government has done. As Snowden said, “I really want the focus to be on these documents and the debate which I hope this will trigger among citizens around the globe about what kind of world we want to live in. (Greenwald, 2013)."
Greenwald, Glenn (2013). Edward Snowden: the whistleblower behind the NSA surveillance revelations. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jun/09/edward-snowden-nsa- whistleblower-surveillance
Greenwald, Glenn (2013). NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon customers daily. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com /world/2013/jun/06/nsa-phone-records-verizon-court-order
Meyer, David (2013). These are the companies alleged to have links to the NSA surveillance scandal. Gigaom. Retrieved from https://gigaom.com/2013/08/ 30/ these-are-the-companies-alleged-to-have-links-to-the-nsa-surveillance- scandal