by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley
Edward Snowden is vilified as a “traitor” by politicians of the American political duopoly, and hunted like Public Enemy Number One by the global imperial apparatus. However, for a large proportion of Earthlings, Snowden has made the singular contribution to humanity of the year 2013.
The power of the National Security Agency (NSA) has grown by leaps and bounds ever since the terror attacks which took place on September 11, 2001. The Bush administration wasted no time in dismantling civil liberties and expanding government power through the Patriot Act. Every step he took was supported by both Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress and voices of dissent were too few and far between. Barack Obama made certain to not only keep those powers but to expand them beyond anything that Bush and Dick Cheney had imagined.
”The Obama administration did everything in its power to silence Snowden.”
Not only were individuals targeted but foreign governments as well. Even countries that are America’s allies like Brazil, France and Germany were under the spies’ microscope. The NSA wasn’t content to just spy randomly either. German chancellor Angela Merkel’s cell phone calls were monitored by the American government. Needless to say this revelation proved problematic for the president. He and Merkel had a heated discussion in which she compared the NSA to the infamous Stasi apparatus in her East German homeland. That moment was surely awkward.
In recent days federal judge Richard J. Leon dealt a bit of a setback to the Obama administration. In a 68-page decision the judge held that the National Security Agency (NSA) policy of keeping metadata on the phone records of every American was “likely” unconstitutional. The judge also stayed his own injunction and gave the government an opportunity to appeal but this decision is pivotal and vindicates Snowden completely.
Ironically it was a conservative activist, Larry Klayman, whose suit was heard by judge Leon. Klayman argues that Obama is not an American citizen among other fringe right wing theories. He has long been a gadfly to Democratic presidents but his standing on the political spectrum shouldn’t be an issue. If Melissa Harris-Perry, Joy Anne Reid and their MSNBC colleagues were as progressive as they claim, they would have brought a suit against the president. Of course that kind of activism and careers in corporate media don’t mix.
Edward Snowden succeeded where Chelsea Manning failed. Manning was caught and has succeeded only because the harsh treatment meted out against him shows the depravity of our government. Snowden has beaten the Bush/Obama administration at its own game and in so doing has given people another reason to be hopeful. That impact alone makes him the Person of the Year.