WEST PALM BEACH, FL, June 12, 2013 — Whether you think Edward Snowden, the whistleblower who leaked information on the NSA PRISM program, was justified or not, the fact is he is a traitor. He did betray his country, the United States.
Not only did Snowden willingly and knowingly steal classified information and distribute that information to unauthorized persons, break the law, break his vow, undercut intelligence relationships for the US around the world and likely put people at danger, he is now almost certainly the guest of Chinese intelligence services to whom he is providing still more information.
If he returns to the US, Snowden will spend a lengthy part of the rest of his life in jail. No security agreement contains a clause allowing those with a security clearance to release classified information if the government is behaving badly. Certainly there is nothing that allows anyone with a clearance to pass an actual Secret/No Forn (No Foreigners) document to the Guardian, a UK (i.e., foreign) newspaper.
While Snowden is the latest traitor, he is not the only traitor.
Some other well-known traitors from the US government world include Aldrich Ames, and Robert Hanssen.
Ames, a CIA officer, walked in to the Soviet Embassy in Washington and offered to trade classified information for money. He gave the Soviets the names of Soviet sources and other counterintelligence information. Ames earned more than $4 million dollars for his betrayal. More than ten people were identified by Ames as American agents and killed. He is serving a life sentence in jail near Allentown, Pennsylvania.
Hanssen started his career as a Chicago police officer and then became an FBI Special Agent. Hanssen, like Ames, sold secrets to the Soviet KGB for money. Soviet authorities paid him $1.4 million and diamonds for selling information on double agents and other secrets. Several people were killed based on information provided by Hanssen. Officials involved in arresting Hanssen also believe he betrayed the US because his KGB handlers praised him and courted him, and Hanssen was an outsider with few friends. In 2002, Hanssen pleaded guilty to 15 counts of espionage and conspiracy for passing information to the Soviet Union and then Russia during a 20 year period. No family members attended his sentencing. US officials said the damage Hanssen did was “exceptionally grave” and some analysts say he is the most damaging spy in US history.
Lesser-known traitors from the US intelligence world include Edward Lee Howard, a former CIA case officer angry at the US after he was fired for accusations of drug use, theft and deception. He willingly gave classified information to the Soviets and defected to the Soviet Union in 1985 and died in Russia in 2002.
Sharon Scranage, a CIA employee, gave information to her Ghanaian boyfriend, which he passed to numerous US adversaries, including members of the Soviet Bloc. Scranage failed a polygraph, confessed to authorities and helped arrest her former boyfriend. She spent five years in jail.
On top of the whistle-blower-traitor list, and a possible warning to Snowden had he been paying attention, is Mordechai Vanunu. Vanunu was a nuclear technician for Israel in the 1980s. At that time, Israel repeatedly assured the world it was pursuing nuclear power for peaceful civilian purposes only. Vanunu, who said he was opposed to weapons of mass destruction, countered that assertion in 1986 by leaking details of Israel’s nuclear weapons plan to the British press. Based on information from Vanunu, the world learned Israel could make nuclear warheads.
Not surprisingly, Israel was not amused. Israeli intelligence launched a convoluted “honey trap” for Vanunu and lured him to Italy, where he was drugged and returned to Israel to face a closed-door trial. He was convicted and sentenced to 18 years in prison, spending 11 years in solitary confinement. Vanunu is now out of prison, but faces severe restrictions from Israeli authorities. He has attempted to seek asylum in several countries but has been denied.
He has been nominated for the Nobel Prize.
Chinese know the name Wang Jingwei. Wang started as a left-wing supporter of the Chinese Nationalist Party and was a close associate of Sun Yat-sen. Wang and Chiang Kai-shek fought for control of the party, with Chiang ultimately succeeding. When the Japanese invaded in 1937, they offered Wang the opportunity to rule if he collaborated with the Japanese and turned his back on China. Wang agreed, and headed a puppet government for Japan until the Japanese surrendered. In China, his name is synonymous with treason.
Vidkun Abraham Lauritz Jonssøn Quisling, known as Norway’s Benedict Arnold, adored Adolf Hitler. During a visit to Berlin in 1939, Quisling told Hitler it would be extremely valuable for the Germans to occupy Norway. Hitler agreed, and after the invasion, Quisling declared himself the new head of Norway. He ordered the Norwegians to stop fighting the Germans, which lead to a fierce resistance. Quisling collaborated with the Nazi’s throughout the war, and received heavy Nazi subsidies. He was arrested and executed for his role in causing the deaths of thousands of Jews. Before he died, Quisling said, “Believe me, in ten years’ time I will have become another Saint Olav.”
The name Quisling is now a slur for people who favor foreign nations more than their own.
Every era, every country has traitors and turncoats, individuals who claim to be helping the greater good while they break laws and hurt their country.
Nice company, Mr. Snowden.
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