Sunday, June 16, 2013

SOME RANDOM THOUGHTS

Fathers' Day.  Perhaps a time for some serious talk.  My father passed away in 1980.  He was 77.  My grandfather died in 1958, I believe, at the age of 83.  Now I'm 73 so my days are getting short.

So, it's time to talk about Edward Snowden.

SWMBO and I have, as always, followed the news reports about the leak that led to the revealing of various U.S. government programs that monitored (seemingly) every one's phone calls, emails, Facebook posts and Twitter tweets.

The leak came from Edward Snowden, a high school dropout, a college dropout, a U.S. army dropout and a dropout from the firm that employed him as some kind of I.T. analyst.

Snowden has since fled to Hong Kong and perhaps to China, or Russia, or Xanadu, sending out frequent messages about the evil perpetrated by the U.S. government and the rightness of his actions in revealing it.

Never mind that he had signed papers that committed him NOT to reveal any such information.

But unlike Dick Cheney and some others in the political firmament I do not consider Snowden a traitor.  Perhaps what he did was ill-advised but treason?  I don't think so.  Treason involves actions determined to bring down the government.  I don't think Snowden's silly act rises to that level.

As for the government's programs to gather all this information on all of us?  It appears that was not the case.  They have the ability through these various programs to do that but have they?  Apparently not.  Of the millions of people whose records have been seized only about 300 have actually been looked at or listened to.  And virtually all of those have been people linked to foreign terrorist organizations.  So, are we to ignore these connections?  Or investigate them?

I say, considering that the government claims to have subverted several terrorist plots aimed at the United States, go get 'em!  On this I am joined by politicians of both parties who have authorized these programs for years, long before Barack Obama became President.

But back to Snowden.  He appears to me (and to SWMBO) to be one of a cadre of somewhat intelligent computer nerds who can't seem to find themselves in society.  I think he, and his like, are amoral people who favor publicity over law.  They seem to feel that they are above the laws that govern the rest of us and so superior in their intellect that they can decide for all what are correct actions.

As I said to SWMBO as we were discussing this today, I think the worst punishment for Snowden would be to ignore him.  Totally.  Never mention his name again.

Of course I know that is impossible.  There is just too much media these days, good and bad, along with social fronts that I have mentioned where no one can be edited or censored or forbidden to write.

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6 comments:

  1. There is a new morality and sense of ethic emerging with Snowden's generation and those who have spent so much of their life in a cyber world of some sort. They have a different focal length.

    I, however, have a notion for what to do with the NSA big data. Coming up in my post on Monday in http://tomcochrunlightbreezes.blogspot.com

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  2. I found your post interesting, courageous, but also disturbing. I find that I agree with some of what you say, just as I also agree with some of what the British Foreign Secretary says about similar matters. But somewhere behind that, uncomfortable warning bells are ringing. What happens when the time moves on? Morality, also, must surely move forward, unless one is committed to fundamentalism. Perhaps the morality with which we have lived was all very well for its time, but no longer.

    I do not believe in absolutes, except as an endpoint to which things tend. Neither do I believe that one can, with impunity, simply ditch one's principles when they become inconvenient. But perhaps we need to listen to challenges to our way of thinking. That doesn't mean we have to throw away everything we hold precious. The Baby needs to be saved even when the Bath Water is no longer fit for purpose.

    Thanks for your thought provoking post.

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  3. I'm honestly not sure what I think of Snowden. Making this creepy practice by our government somewhat public, so as to open the debate on it, doesn't strike me as the worst thing in the world. But I suspect that his motives were, as you say, public notoriety, which is rather despicable.

    Like you, I'm well aware that I'm coming to the top of the genetic ladder. My dad, at 80, is nearing the end and is already the oldest of my male ancestors. Makes one aware of the need to make the most of these years.

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  4. Interesting perspective Bruce. I agree Snowden might make a good poster child for dropping out, but not much else. But I'm not focusing on him but on the meat....the NSA snooping. Of course they can read anything we put on the public broadband. It's public. But I'm uncomfortable giving them the power to just look wherever they want, theoretically, without having to even suspect evil doing.

    As you point out, only about 300 have been looked at or listened to, and they had ties to bad guys. No problem. They...had...ties...to...bad...guys. I say we relax the level of suspicion needed to initiate surveillance, but still require there be SOME reason to snoop.

    It just seems to me it's a short leap from what they're doing to Big Brother. "Absolute power corrupts absolutely." I don't like giving our government carte blanche absolute power, which it seems to me is what the NSA has now.

    S

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  5. This is Snowden's fifteen minutes of fame and it won't be long before something else comes along and he's forgotten.

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  6. We will see how this eventually turns out, but it may be some time.

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