Snowden’s revelation more important than whereabouts

David Delgado/The Daily Cougar

David Delgado/The Daily Cougar

If Edward Snowden is to be believed, he is no longer in his Hong Kong hotel room. He is no longer communicating with journalists over an encrypted internet connection. He’s no longer residing in China nor where he should be in Russia. Neither is he in Ecuador, a nation which claims to have received his request for political asylum.

Snowden has supposedly made a hefty salary, worked for Dell and shared a home in Hawaii. Now he has become one of America’s most significant whistleblowers against one of the most secretive organizations, and less than a month after his actions, Hollywood opted for film rights to capture his story.

Snowden requested that The Guardian release his identity stating that he has no intention of hiding because he believes he has done nothing wrong.

America is pulling to find this invisible man. He’d chosen Hong Kong for its “commitment to free speech and pride for political dissent”. A couple weeks later, a seat was booked under Snowden’s name from Moscow to Havana, hopping from one crater of socio-political inscrutability to another. However, he didn’t board the flight.

Under the guide of PRISM, the National Security Agency collects phone records. Director of National Security James Clapper only revealed its existence to the public last week. Drawing on ambiguous constitutional interpretations, PRISM collects data flow “directly from the servers” of U.S. internet companies. At least nine major providers have been implicated.

Facebook, Google and Microsoft were quick to clarify that they sold no such records to the agency. Verizon Wireless and AT&T were politely silent. Shortly afterwards, President Barack Obama reminded the public that the National Security Agency’s secrets aren’t actually secrets at all, rather only in the sense of classified information.

If you haven’t formed your opinion on the “leak”, it’ll help to put a bead on what a whistleblower actually is. Determining what you think was done might shed light on what you think the title means as it yields a clearer lens to watch the proceedings. Incidentally, that first step is the hardest part.

Representative Loretta Sanchez has deemed the PRISM leaks as a broad issue with a huge  impact made on society. Senator Jon Tester said he didn’t find any wrongdoing in Snowden’s actions.

“Quite frankly, it helps people like me become aware of a situation that I wasn’t aware of before,” Tester said.

UH’s professor Matthew Tribbe harbors similar sentiments on PRISM. Americans might find the information disturbing, which makes the situation about the issue being public satisfying matter.

“Simply knowing the vast extent of the data collection would not seem to imperil any critical NSA operations or investigations,” Tribbe said.

“But it may perhaps, endanger the continuation of the programs themselves, which should be the decision of the American people.”

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov claims Snowden never crossed their border while President Vladmir Putin condemned American requests for an extradition.

“The Russian special services are not engaged with him and will not be engaged,” Putin said.

Snowden called his sole motive to “inform the public as to which has been done in their name and that which is done against them.” He’s since told the Guardian that he didn’t want to reside in a society with those type of agenda’s in order.

So he left.

In the June 24 issue of Time Magazine, the publication all but equates whistleblowing to spying. They’ve cited Snowden, Pfc. Bradley Manning and Aaron Schwarts, who committed suicide shortly after lifting documents from the JSTOR academic database as “The Informers”.

It might confuse anyone who caught their 2011 issue. They’d deemed “The Protestor” as their “Person of the Year.”

Meanwhile, Snowden is nowhere. For the time being, it seems he has disappeared from the grid he sought to expose. In spite of everything, it’s important not to lose the forest for the trees: Edward Snowden is important, but he’s only an individual. One guy.

The policies he’s exposed are what affect us. They’re what matters and it’s through their lens that the story should develop.

Bryan Washington is a sociology and English sophomore and may be reached at [email protected].

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