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We Should All Share Edward Snowden’s Worst Fear

Senator Rand Paul has the right idea about Snowden, noting that while Edward Snowden told the truth about government surveillance, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper lied to Congress. Contact your Senators (U.S. Capitol: 1-866-220-0044) and urge him/her to support Rand Paul’s S. 1121 bill, the “Fourth Amendment Restoration Act of 2013.”

Rand Paul and Edward Snowden
Edward Snowden achieved cult hero status among privacy advocates and some constitutionalists when he revealed “Prism,” a program of widespread, and potentially unconstitutional, U.S. government interception and searching of domestic electronic communications.

Snowden is believed to be now stuck in a Moscow airport transit area, seeking asylum from more than a dozen countries.

Snowden’s crown became a little tarnished as his search for asylum or some place of safe haven led him to flirt with some of America’s political opponents not known for their toleration of dissent or subscription to the human rights and liberty Americans take for granted in our constitutional republic – bent as its Constitution may be by Barack Obama.

To his credit Snowden told Britain’s The Guardian newspaper that he was inclined to seek asylum in a country that shared his values — and that "the nation that most encompasses this is Iceland."

However, to apply for asylum in Iceland, Snowden would have to reach the island nation's soil.

In an effort to circumvent that issue, Icelandic lawmakers in one of the tiny nation’s far-left parties have now introduced a proposal in Parliament that would grant immediate citizenship to Edward Snowden. This same tactic helped get eccentric chess master Bobby Fischer to Iceland from Japan in 2005 to escape U.S. prosecution for breaking sanctions imposed on the former Yugoslavia.

Ogmundur Jonasson, whose liberal Left-Green Party is backing the proposal along with the Pirate Party and Brighter Future Party, put the issue before the Judicial Affairs Committee Thursday, but according to reporting by USA Today, the idea received minimal support – only six of Iceland’s 62 members of Parliament got behind the idea and parliament has now adjourned for the summer leaving Snowden still stuck in limbo.

As Philip Ewing observed in today’s POLITICO, Snowden’s worst fear, by his own account, is that “nothing will change.”

“People will see in the media all these disclosures, they’ll know the lengths the government is going to grant themselves powers, unilaterally, to create greater control over American society and global society,” he told The Guardian last month after he’d asked it to identify him as its source. “But they won’t be willing to take the risks necessary to stand up and fight to change things, to force their representatives to actually take a stand in their interests.”

So far it looks like Edward Snowden’s worst fear is coming true.

As far as we can tell from the public record, the average American seems surprisingly accepting of the idea that the government may be intercepting their communications.

Polls done since Greenwald’s first article appeared in The Guardian, show majorities of respondents have say they accept the phone-monitoring program, though Internet and email-monitoring are less popular.

And while the American Civil Liberties Union is suing the government to get access to more court information related to the interception of communications, arguing that Snowden’s disclosures reveal the huge scale involved with NSA monitoring – no one can say for certain exactly how many people are involved.

To some extent the public disinterest may be a function of the media’s obsession with where Snowden is going as opposed to the issues that he raised.

As POLITICO’s Ewing observed, a month after Glen Greenwald’s first article appeared in The Guardian, which revealed an order from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court authorizing the NSA to collect the phone records of every Verizon customer, there has been no public movement in Washington to stop the court from issuing another such order. Congress has no intelligence reform bill that would rein in the phone-tracking, or Internet monitoring, or cyberattack-planning, or any of the other secret government workings that Snowden’s disclosures have revealed.

Senator Rand Paul has the right idea about Snowden, noting that while Edward Snowden told the truth about government surveillance, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper lied to Congress:

“I do think that when history looks at this, they are going to contrast the behavior of James Clapper, our national intelligence director, with Edward Snowden,” Senator Paul told CNN’s Candy Crowley. “Mr. Clapper lied in Congress, in defiance of the law, in the name of security. Mr. Snowden told the truth in the name of privacy. So I think there will be a judgment, because both of them broke of the law.”

Except Clapper is enjoying the liberty our Constitution guarantees, even in the face of his own law-breaking, while Snowden is stuck in the transit lounge of an increasingly inhospitable Russia.

Americans need to wake-up and demand answers from Congress as to how far widespread the government’s domestic communications surveillance truly is and demand the kind of Congressional oversight necessary to ensure that it stays within strict constitutional limits.

Contact your Senators (U.S. Capitol: 1-866-220-0044) and urge him/her to support Rand Paul’s S. 1121 bill, the “Fourth Amendment Restoration Act of 2013.”

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