We now know something about the source of national security leaks that have bedeviled the Obama Administration in recent days. Even if you are a conservative happy to see the White House struggling with scandals, Snowden does not appear to be any conservative's hero.
First he chooses to flee to Hong Kong, which is controlled by China. If your primary concern is the violation of individual human rights, why run into the belly of the beast?
In describing his motivations, he uttered one phrase that jumped out at me. Snowden said, "…I hope this will trigger [a debate] among citizens around the globe about what kind of world we want to live in." His concern is not for America, but the world.
He described himself as a disillusioned Obama supporter, saying, "I believed in Obama's promises." Yet he voted for a third party in 2008, presumably for someone to the left of Obama. According to the conservative Washington Examiner, he made political donations to Ron Paul in 2012.
Whether you cheered the disclosures or are conflicted about them, it is worth noting that the most voluminous leakers of America's national security data in recent history have all been leftists. From Julius and Ethel Rosenberg in the '50s to Daniel Ellsberg in '70s, to Julian Assange and Bradley Manning, a disgruntled homosexual. If Snowden complicates the story, so do other weekend developments. (See next item.)
Prism vs. Verizon
According to multiple sources, including people on Capitol Hill, the Internet data collection program known as Prism was aimed exclusively at individuals overseas and not the American people. That stands in contrast to the massive collection of phone data (though not actual conversations). That program, in which Verizon was ordered to turn over massive amounts of data, was aimed at arguably every phone number in the U.S.
I don't believe the leak of the Verizon program represents any threat to our national security. So I am not conflicted about that at all. Americans have a right to debate whether we are comfortable with the government collecting that much information.
The Prism leak, however, is much more troubling from a national security stand point, and certainly appears to have aided the jihadists who continue to work hard to find ways to kill us.
Here's something else to consider: We know the Chinese are engaged in an ongoing campaign of cyber-warfare against us. And yet Snowden essentially "defects" to China after exposing the details of our own cyber intelligence capabilities. One former CIA officer suggested that Snowden's actions could be "potential Chinese espionage," especially coming on the heels of Obama's meeting with China's new president.
Obama Has No Credibility
The New York Times is not happy with President Obama. In fact, the Times even declared that the president has "lost all credibility" on the issue of electronic surveillance. I agree, but not entirely for the same reasons.
Obama's defenders insist that the mining of phone data has helped us prevent attacks. Perhaps so, but what about these cases:
- The government had much more specific information than call volume regarding Fort Hoot shooter Major Nidal Hasan. It had Internet postings, his emails with a known America-hating jihadist andhis rants on the job. Yet with data much more specific than anything collected by Verizon, this administration and its politically correct minions in our military were unable to act and soldiers were murdered.
- The administration was directly informed about the Tsarnaev brothers by Russian intelligence. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was on the terrorist watch list. But as the broken bodies were being picked up off the streets of Boston, all we got was an avalanche of excuses as to why it was unreasonable to expect the government to pick these two terrorists off the "watch list."
- In Benghazi there had been warnings that Al Qaeda was going to strike on the anniversary of 9/11. Internet postings and rumors were rampant. The militia hired to protect Ambassador Stevenstold us it would not do so. Yet the administration allowed our ambassador and State Department employees to walk right into the worst nest of jihadists in the whole sorry state of Libya.
And in spite of all their data collection, the White House then tried to tell us that it wasn't Al Qaeda, but Muslim movie critics who burned our consulate and murdered our ambassador and three other Americans.
All of this suggests that when it has specific information tied to specific names, the administration is often unable to save American lives. So how are we supposed to believe that billions and billions of bytes of phone call data are essential to keeping us safe?
"War On Terror Is Over"
A constant theme of this administration has been, "The war on terror is over." Barack Obama ran as a candidate in 2008 on a promise to withdraw from Iraq. In 2012, he vowed to end the war in Afghanistan too. And just days ago, he essentially declared that the global war on terror is over.
Now I disagree. Most wars end with one side winning and one side losing. When the president says, "We've ended the war in Iraq and we are ending the war in Afghanistan," he never says our troops were victorious on the battlefield. And there is no sign our jihadist enemy has surrendered.
But if Obama believes the war is over, then why is his administration day-by-day increasing its surveillance of the American people? There is a disconnect here that makes no sense. Obama is telling us the war on terror is over, but he is demanding that we tolerate the massive collection of data.
Here's where I am today: I don't think I am going to like Mr. Snowden. I know I don't like much of what is happening in Washington today. I am willing to tolerate government intrusiveness in a time of war with suitable safeguards. But the IRS appears to be having trouble with safeguards, and the president is clearly not fighting this war with the objective of winning it.
I urge our friends on Capitol Hill, who favor a strong and free America, to take the lead in doing everything possible to prevent the government from using the information at its disposal to go after domestic civic groups like the Tea Party or Christian ministries when it should be focused on real traitors like Assange and the Tsarnaev brothers.