Edward Snowden should be arrested and prosecuted

Edward Snowden, who leaked NSA secrets, is no hero. He is a criminal. Photo: AP

CHICAGO, June 10, 2013 — Edward Snowden, the so-called whistle blower behind the NSA leaks, is being lauded as a hero in some quarters and a villain in others. 

Snowden is a common criminal. He should be arrested and prosecuted to fullest extent the law allows. It should be done as soon as possible. Arresting him would not create a public relations nightmare. It is the right thing to do. It is the only thing to do. 


SEE RELATED: Jury nullification, not a pardon for Edward Snowden


When you join the military, work for the government, or government contractors, you give up some of your rights and freedoms. If you are entrusted with security clearances and access to classified materials, you give up even more rights and freedoms. These rights and freedoms are not taken from you. You voluntarily give them up. If you violate the trust put into you, you deserve any and all punishment that comes your way, no matter how noble your ego makes you think the cause is. 

Our heroic criminal, Edward Snowden, violated the trust the government and his employer gave him. It is time for him to face the music and pay the price. The government should spare no time or expense in hunting him down, capturing, arresting, and prosecuting him. If it takes military Special Operations personnel to grab him, so be it. 

Snowden committed a crime. He made classified information public. He violated the law. He should be arrested and brought to justice. A court should decide his fate and punishment if he is convicted. If he walks, he can strut his stuff to high heaven. 

Intelligence agencies operate in a secret world where they know there are no secrets. They institute the best safeguards to protect their world. They trust their personnel and contractors to keep classified information secret. In the age of technology, they equally must trust them to keep the technology itself secret. Any leaks by personnel should result in some form of punishment, from terminating security clearances to termination of employment, or even prosecution, depending on the severity of the breach. 


SEE RELATED: NSA whistleblower speaks out: you’re not even aware of what’s possible


Snowden’s leaks were not harmless breaches. They have major implications. This is not an argument one way or the other about the practices of the NSA, CIA, or any other government agency. This is about one person who committed a crime against the government. This is not about greater good, common good, or moral and noble causes. This is not a case of so-called moral or supposed social justice. Snowden committed a crime. A high crime. A crime that could have deleterious ramifications on national security. 

If Snowden did not like what he witnessed he could have always quit his $200,000 a year job. He could have walked away with his head held high. Instead, he stole government documents and released them. Snowden knowingly and willingly committed crimes. Snowden is a criminal, nothing more, nothing less. 

Snowden, like PFC Bradley Manning and others, also brings to light the problems the government has in thoroughly and continually vetting its personnel, contract employees, and contractors. The Snowden case is a black eye for Booz-Allen-Hamilton and government personnel who are charged with vetting and monitoring security clearances. 

How many more Snowdens are “serving” the people of this nation? This is a severe problem that must be solved. This is one issue Congressional and Senate committees should be investigating. Somewhere along the line there is a strain of neglect, malpractice, and irresponsibility in vetting and monitoring people entrusted with classified information, in the military and civilian sectors. 


SEE RELATED: Admitting the NSA is out of control is just the first step


Snowden, though a high school dropout, was a highly qualified computer and Internet technology expert. His skills, especially in digital security, may have been more valuable or necessary than security concerns. We will not know that without some type of investigation. Even though Bradley Manning’s behavior rang alarm bells, he was still allowed to keep his clearances. It was reported that due to shortages in personnel with his skills, Manning was necessary. 

Somewhere along the line necessity versus security will have dangerous ramifications and cause irreparable harm. 

The government long ago instituted best practices, policies, and procedures for vetting people to be placed in sensitive positions. They know and realize that some people will violate trust or sell out for money. They know too well that the biggest problem is recruiting from the human gene pool. 

They realize that some, like Snowden, will violate trust and laws for so-called noble purposes or moral crusades. This is why people are supposed to be continuously monitored and assessed after being vetted. Somewhere along the line practices, policies and procedures were not followed or were loosened. People are slipping through the cracks. 

The next noble leaker could cause critical and long lasting damage to our national security apparatus. The next leaker could literally cost lives of innocent people. It is strange that only actual deaths create outrage and move us to action, rather than violations of normal practices, policies and procedures put in place to prevent them. 

Snowden may be a hero to some. He may be the new poster boy for digital freedom. His ego aside, he might even be a noble and moral person. At the end of the day, he is still a criminal. He must be made to face justice, for better or worse.


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Peter Bella

Peter Bella is a retired Chicago Police Officer, freelance photographer, freelance writer, budding videographer, and passionate cook.  He aims to be the sharp stick that pokes and annoys.  The Middle Class Guy is a political column written from a center-right point of view.  While concentrating mainly on politics he will stray into culture, entertainment, sports, cooking, and humor from time to time, along with Memories of things Pabst.  All from a middle class perspective.

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