When Senator Diane Feinstein expressed her outrage at Edward Snowden because he’d failed to take his concern about the NSA through the proper channels and reached out to the press, she was guilty of short term memory loss. In 2001, William Binney, a 30 year-old veteran of the agency, had attempted to do as Feinstein expected. Concerned that the super secret agency was collecting material on all citizens in a manner similar to the SS, the Gestapo, the Stasi, The KGB and the NKVD, he took it upon himself to alert the Congress of which Feinstein was a member. http://reason.com/archives/2014/04/17/the-original-nsa-whistleblower. In response, he was pilloried.
The “proper” authorities not only turned a blind eye to his complaint, they accused him of leaking state secrets and made him the subject of an FBI investigation His home was seized as was his office and his computer with the consequence that his consulting business was destroyed before he was exonerated. http://reason.com/reasontv/2014/01/11/edward-snowden-v-10-nsa-whistleblower-wi.
Binney has no trouble understanding why Snowden went to the press and not the Congress with his concerns — though he believes Snowden was wrong to leak materials not directly related to the Constitutional questions of citizen surveillance. Still, he was satisfied that the young man had learned from Binney’s mistake.
People continue to debate whether or not Edward Snowden is a traitor or a hero while the real questions of government overreach remain unanswered. Congress may throw money at the problem in an effort to appear pro-active, but without transparency on NSA’s part, that money will end up in the hands of those who have remained unrepentant and unaccountable and who, made richer, are likely to expand their nefarious ways.
(William Binney photo courtesy of www.digplanet.com)