From Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/06/10-7
Edward Snowden, the person who disclosed top-secret documents on the U.S. government’s massive surveillance programs, is reportedly in Hong Kong and seeking asylum from countries that value openness and freedom, conditions seen as slipping away at home
Before the U.S. government and the mainstream media engage in the customary character assassination of truth-teller Edward Snowden – a fate endured by Pfc. Bradley Manning and others – let’s get on the record the motives he gave for releasing the trove of information on intrusive eavesdropping by the National Security Agency.
Why would someone like Snowden, a 29-year-old employee of national-security contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, jeopardize what he calls “a very comfortable life” in order to blow the whistle on the U.S. government’s abuse of power?
If what he did sounds weird, this is only because there are so precious few like him who will stand on principle and risk everything. Snowden explained that if the public does not know about these intrusive programs, there is no room for citizen input regarding how they square with our constitutional rights.
Snowden, who was living in Hawaii with a promising career and a salary said to be about $200,000 a year, told the London Guardian: “I’m willing to sacrifice all of that because I can’t in good conscience allow the U.S. government to destroy privacy, Internet freedom, and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they’re now building.”
He added that he wanted to reveal the “federation of secret law, unequal pardon, and irresistible executive powers that rule the world I love. … What they’re doing poses an existential threat to democracy.”
Snowden enlisted in the Army in 2003 and began training to join the Special Forces. He told the Guardian: “I wanted to fight in the Iraq war because I felt like I had an obligation as a human being to help free people from oppression.” He quickly found, though, that, in his words, “Most of the people training us seemed pumped up about killing Arabs, not helping anyone.” Snowden broke both legs in a training accident and was discharged.
In several key respects, the experiences of Snowden resemble those of Bradley Manning. Both took the enlisted person’s oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” As a condition of employment, both signed a promise not to disclose classified information; and both witnessed at close hand flagrant abuses that their consciences told them they needed to expose.
Continue reading at: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/06/10-7