The Oath That Edward Snowden “Broke”
Bill Quick

Here’s the oath Snowden took when he went to work for the government:

Official US Oaths of Office

Federal employees take the same oath of office as Congress, by which they swear to support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America.

“I, [name], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.” 5 U.S.C. §3331

In other words, he promised to:

Support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic…”

Seems to me you could make a strong case that Snowden actually acted in accordance with his oath, if you view the deeds of the domestic National Security Establishment as being inmical to the letter and spirit of the United States Constitution.

It is those who continue to justify and support the endless assaults on our Constitutionally-guaranteed liberties by the Security State who are the vile oath-breakers.   At least, that’s the way I see it.

Bill Quick

About Bill Quick

I am a small-l libertarian. My primary concern is to increase individual liberty as much as possible in the face of statist efforts to restrict it from both the right and the left. If I had to sum up my beliefs as concisely as possible, I would say, "Stay out of my wallet and my bedroom," "your liberty stops at my nose," and "don't tread on me." I will believe that things are taking a turn for the better in America when married gays are able to, and do, maintain large arsenals of automatic weapons, and tax collectors are, and do, not.

Comments

The Oath That Edward Snowden “Broke” — 9 Comments

  1. But Bill, what if the information he gave away on our government spying on us was but a fraction of what he gave over to our enemies, both foreign and domestic?

    Seriously, where do you balance the scales? Can you not conceive of a better way for Snowden to have behaved? Instead you plonk this unprincipled loser on a pedestal of hero worship and prostrate yourself to him as a defender of liberty? I just don’t get this.

    But, hey! China and Russia are our buds, right? No, ah, animosity there, right. We all get along famously. No sense calling them “enemies,” huh? Because they were all sheltering him rent-free out of the sweetness of their hearts! And it’s such a great thing that a wonderful, upstanding guy like Glen Greenwald has all this information to twist ball sacks the world over, isn’t it? Nice little intelligence operation ya got goin’ there, pal. Shame if anything, ah, happened to it…

  2. It is those who continue to justify and support the endless assaults on our Constitutionally-guaranteed liberties by the Security State who are the vile oath-breakers.

    I’m just wondering when it became such a big fucking deal? The Security State? Bill, when do you date that from? Is this something new?

    I neither justify nor support it, but, damn! It’s always been thus. That’s not a justification. That’s a fact.

    How do you sort out good secrets from the bad secrets? Are they all bad? Is there never a justification for the “bodyguard of lies?”

    You’re cheering on a creep like Snowden for revealing the obvious – that our government (quelle horreur!) spies on its own people! – and burning down the rest of the building in the process.

  3. But Bill, what if the information he gave away on our government spying on us was but a fraction of what he gave over to our enemies, both foreign and domestic?

    You keep saying that, but do you have any evidence you’d like to offer?

    I’m just wondering when it became such a big fucking deal? The Security State? Bill, when do you date that from? Is this something new?

    I neither justify nor support it, but, damn! It’s always been thus. That’s not a justification. That’s a fact.

    The security state I fear is a product of the technological age. It is an entirely different beast than the thing that governments were able to construct until relatively recently.

    We used to spy on our enemies. Now we spy on everybody, including all our citizens, in contravention of our highest law. You may try to handwave that away by claiming it has always been thus, but it has not.

    We used to spy on our enemies in order to defend ourselves from them. Now our state spies on us in order to defend itself from us. And control us and, eventually, enslave us.

    I don’t use the word enslave lightly, but that’s exactly what they are trying to do. And I’m not going to get all squeamish about the sort of person who throws a monkey wrench in their plans.

    In this case it’s Snowden, and I say, more power to him.

    and burning down the rest of the building in the process.

    If you can’t see the building is already half burned down, then this discussion will be singularly unproductive. We would be living in worlds so different that communication would probably be impossible.

    • And why would you assume that what Snowden took is simply what you’ve seen so far?

      Dammit, where do you balance the scales? That’s all I’m asking. We did it before, in previous wars, to our advantage. Where do you draw the line. If a vigilante takes out a murderer, but in the process, kills a number of your friends, neighbors and countrymen, is it justified?

      That’s what I’m asking. Where do you draw the line between legitimate and illegitimate intelligence work?

      Building half burned down? No. I’m talking a minor kitchen fire, and you’re talking about a wrecking ball to the whole building.

      Again, why do you assume that Snowden didn’t give them the whole burrito? Everybody writing on this says that there’s a huge amount of information in what he took, and very little has been released publicly.

      You and SteveF are saying that it doesn’t matter what the collateral damage is, as long as we know everything! When is secrecy justified?

      We used to spy on our enemies in order to defend ourselves from them.

      Oh, bullshit. Three words: J. Edgar. Hoover. And it goes way back before that. We’ve always spied on ourselves. Whether the government did it themselves or used proxies, this has always been a fact. The government has always spied on its opposition and used that intelligence according to its “needs” at the given time. Controlling us and enslaving us? Sure. But it’s not new!

      Now our state spies on us in order to defend itself from us.

      I totally agree. Again: Where do you draw the line? When someone like Snowden walks off with as much data as he did, where to you draw the line between the good he did with the harm he can do. Please don’t tell me that you haven’t considered that he holds the keys to the kingdom? Why is he so attractive to the USSR Russia right now? Jeebus. Why on earth would they bother with this guy? Snowden is like Oswald with a royal flush.

      • Again: Where do you draw the line? When someone like Snowden walks off with as much data as he did, where to you draw the line between the good he did with the harm he can do.

        I know where I draw the line – I draw it in the sand, and tell the government, “this far, and no further.”

        I’m more interested in where you draw the line. At what point do you decide your government is so far out of control that almost any measures against it are appropriate?

        Please don’t tell me that you haven’t considered that he holds the keys to the kingdom? Why is he so attractive to the USSR Russia right now? Jeebus. Why on earth would they bother with this guy? Snowden is like Oswald with a royal flush.

        What keys to the kingdom? I keep hearing of all the dread dangers he may pose, but nobody is offering any specifics.

        Meantime, I know that the state spins further out of control every day. I have spent 67 years watching America become less and less free, more and more controlled for all sorts of supposedly good reasons.

        I’m drawing the line between what I know to be true – ever-growing totalitarianism – and what some only suspect (because they are told to do so, not because any actual evidence seems to be on offer) might be true – that Snowden is a spy out to destroy America and has the means to do so. In the meantime, the America I know is being destroyed, bit by bit, every day, and it isn’t being done by Edward Snowden.

        If I see myself as being under deadly attack, I don’t waste a lot of time trying to pick the most ideal weapons with which to defend myself. I grab whatever comes to hand. That’s Snowden – whatever comes to hand.

        As to the Security State, as an SF writer I’ve read a lot of dystopias, but the one that really clarified things for me in terms of current reality was Vernor Vinge’s writing about
        Ubiquitous Surveillance in A Deepness in the Sky . Here’s somebody else’s take:

        A Deepness in the Sky Review – Dokimazete | Dokimazete

        What advances are natural? What trends can destroy an entire civilization? One, he speculates, is the universal police state. When a government reaches the point of total surveillance and control, the end of civilization is near.

        “‘We think the governance has opted for ubiquitous law enforcement.’ Pham whistled softly. Now every embedded computing system, down to a child’s rattle, was a governance utility. It was the most extreme form of social control ever invented. ‘So now they have to run everything.’ The notion was terribly seductive to the authoritarian mind…The only trouble was, no despot had the resources to plan every detail in his society’s behavior. Not even planet-wrecker bombs had as dire a reputation for eliminating civilizations.”

        There’s a spectacular account of how such an authoritarian culture inevitably self-destructs, with death on an unimaginable scale, in the book. It impressed me. It still does.

        And I see it every time I think about the fucking NSA and the so-called “Internet of Things.”

        I frankly don’t draw the line at very much at all, if it means stopping something like this from coming into being in America.

  4. Here’s what I can’t imagine: I can’t imagine that any exposure of the activities of our masters, who classify everything they do even as they seek to learn everything about all of us, the better to control us, won’t be greeted with both charges of “treason,” from those masters, and an audience all too willing to buy the charge.

    • Exactly right. Everything is classified. Every breach of silence or party discipline is branded as disloyalty or treason. So many official reports, statistics, and statements coming from the government are obvious lies that everything coming from the government should be treated as a lie.

      On the flip side, every aspect of our lives are subject to warrantless snooping, from our purchases to our minute-by-minute location. This is justified, if it is justified at all, as necessary for the War on Terror or the War on Some Drugs.

      What loyalty is owed to a totalitarian regime? None at all.

      • The entire concept of an oath – which is nothing more than a verbal contract – is that it goes both ways. And the totalitarians broke their side of the agreement long ago – yet they want all the rest of us to pretend that the agreement still binds us.