The Colonel Jessup defence

That is a great speech. So much to like. Statists love it too. “If you knew what I knew …” blah, blah, blah. Yet there is a not-so-small problem; in the story, Colonel Jessup is a criminal.

This brings me to an op-ed in the Fairfax media about Edward Snowden.

Having betrayed his own state, the man who revealed the secrets of the United States’ National Security Agency needs to find out what it is like to live at the mercy of other states. Acting in the name of a morality that disdains allegiance to the rule of national law, he deserves to see what life is like beyond its protection. When he thought that Ecuador was going to give him political asylum, he wrote an oily letter to its president in which he declared that the US system of surveillance was ”a grave violation of our universal human rights”. Now let him find out how hollow those rights are when not guaranteed within a democratic legal order. Let him eat the free peanuts in the transit lounge of life, and learn, too late, what is needed to defend a free people.

Yes – it does worry me that Snowden is seeking asylum from nations with very poor commitment to human freedom and the like. But that is not the issue here. Snowden revealed that the US government is/was spying on its own civilian population.

So the op-ed makes the argument:

The obvious beneficiaries of all of this are not civil liberties. They are those who wish to embarrass the West – the Chinese, who can now push back against US attempts to expose their cyber attacks on American government and industry, Vladimir Putin, German leftists, South American populists and the sort of rent-a-mobs who are so confused that they burn the French flag in La Paz.

Well no. I suspect the Chinese and Putin knew the US government was spying on its own citizens already. German leftists and South American populists claimed the US was spying on its citizens for years (don’t you just hate it when lunatic fringe conspiracy theories turn out to be true?).

Embarrassing the government is not treason.

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26 Responses to The Colonel Jessup defence

  1. Popular Front

    Embarrassing the government is not treason.

    Perhaps it isn’t Sinc but as he was an NSA operative he would be fully aware that any disclosure by him as to US intel activities is a federal crime. It is like the Official Secrets Act, once you sign it (as I have), they’ve got you by the nuts for the rest of your natural.

  2. Rabz

    When he thought that Ecuador was going to give him political asylum, he wrote an oily letter to its president in which he declared that the US system of surveillance was ”a grave violation of our universal human rights”

    Speaking of Ecuadorian asylum seekers, how’s ol’ broom closet man going?

    The last I heard was that his “Universal Human Right” to a solarium was being denied.

    Such cruelty, I tells ya!

  3. Eyrie

    PF, you mean like the bloke who fell foul of the UK version of it and was defended in court by one Malcolm Turnbull (who made his name there)? This while the Cold War was still on?

  4. jupes

    The fact that a government spies on its own citizens doesn’t bother me, however I am interested in the reason for the spying. If the reason is national security I support them. If it’s to nobble the Tea Party then I have a big problem with that. I sincerely hope the Australian government is spying on a few of its citizens. A few listening devices in mosques wouldn’t go astray.

    Apart from the fact Snowden signed the US equivalent of the Official Secrets Act as noted above by PF and therefore has broken the law, I also have a problem with giving information – any information – to foreign countries. If the information he released was classified military information then he should face the death penalty as I believe Braddley Manning should.

    If Snowden really had a problem with what was happening then he should have done something in the US.

    I sincerely hope the Australian government is spying on a few of its citizens. A few listening devices in mosques wouldn’t go astray.

  5. jupes

    Speaking of Ecuadorian asylum seekers, how’s ol’ broom closet man going?

    LOL We will just have for the Ecuadorian Pope to make his next balcony pronouncement.

  6. dd

    Embarrassing the government is not treason.

    No, but if that’s all he was guilty of then he’d be doing guest appearances on Saturday Night Live rather than living in a Russian transit lounge.

    Also you seem to be under the illusion that all he’s done is “revealed that the US government is/was spying on its own civilian population.” Actually that’s not the half of what he revealed. If the only thing he did was break the uncomfortable fact that the government was spying on its citizens you might have a point. In that case, he could arguably be described as a whistleblower.

    But he has also revealed the details of foreign operations, overall US capabilities, and information about specific operations. That’s more than just “embarrassing the government.”

  7. stackja

    Malcolm Turnbull was Wright? I await the KGB/GRU archives being opened by some patriot, who will meet the fate of Markov.

  8. egg_

    A great line wasted on Leftoid Cruise schmaltz.
    A bit like AGW or wind farms requiring grid back up – blissfully unaware of the (Hollywood) smoke & mirrors.

  9. Eyrie

    stackja, how in hell do you make “Malcolm Turnbull was Wright” out of ” you mean like the bloke who fell foul of the UK version of it and was defended in court by one Malcolm Turnbull “?

  10. Alfonso

    Wonder if the line ever comes back to haunt Tom when he’s reflecting on LRon and the Scientologist clowns at zero dark hundred hours in the morning.

  11. stackja

    s

    tackja, how in hell do you make “Malcolm Turnbull was Wright”

    Right? Wright? Who knows?

  12. Token

    Perhaps it isn’t Sinc but as he was an NSA operative he would be fully aware that any disclosure by him as to US intel activities is a federal crime. It is like the Official Secrets Act, once you sign it (as I have), they’ve got you by the nuts for the rest of your natural.

    Zing. That is the point. If he can breach such a contract with impunity (without proof that the terms were invalidated), doesn’t that provide a get out free card for all other contracts?

  13. stackja

    stackja, how in hell do you make “Malcolm Turnbull was Wright”

    Better quote this time.
    Right? Wright? Who knows?

  14. Token

    I heard people compare Snowden’s whine on his paradise lost to the old definition of Chutzpuh – “Someone who murders his parents and demands the court take pity on him as he is now an orphan”.

  15. Luke

    In theory I have no problem with government’s spying on their citizens for national security/preservation of life (Only for these things and not generally for any kind of prosecution).

    The problems is reality. Like all systems it’s great until it gets to the human element.

    Before you know it, it’s being used for all types of purposes and by all kinds of people – both lawfully and unlawfully.

    Too much intelligence can be just as useless as too little when you don’t have the required resources to make proper use of it.

    There will always be some court, tribunal or commission who’ll ban the use of it when ever it contradicts their idealism. E.g. when even an unbiased computer shows that certain groups really do commit more crime. Which ends up meaning that only certain parts of our society get snooped on.

  16. Token

    Before you know it, it’s being used for all types of purposes and by all kinds of people – both lawfully and unlawfully.

    Too much intelligence can be just as useless as too little when you don’t have the required resources to make proper use of it.

    This is the part of the Snowden which overlaps with the IRS scandal. Government workers were using information once ring fenced to actively disadvantage groups due to political motives.

  17. blogstrop

    I think the term “spying on its citizens” is a prejudicial generalisation. Citizens, Permanent Residents, evn Tourists have to be spied upon, ethnic groups and crime gangs have to be infiltrated. Informants have often been helpful in apprehending terrorists before they strike here in Australia.

    Why is this all necessary? Because of slack immigration rules. Stop muslim immigration should be the first thing. But then, Sinc, you’re an open borders type, so you’ll have to live with the spying and all the rest of it. We all will. The die is cast.

  18. Pedro

    I think the term “spying on its citizens” is a prejudicial generalisation. Citizens, Permanent Residents, evn Tourists have to be spied upon, ethnic groups and crime gangs have to be infiltrated. Informants have often been helpful in apprehending terrorists before they strike here in Australia.

    Why is this all necessary? Because of slack immigration rules. Stop muslim immigration should be the first thing. But then, Sinc, you’re an open borders type, so you’ll have to live with the spying and all the rest of it. We all will. The die is cast.

    I don’t really understand that attitude. I’ve no doubt that the huge spying program might make a small difference to the number of terrorist apprehended in advance, but I’m much more worried about the potential for govt’s to accumulate and use private information against their own citizens. It’s not like it hasn’t happened before.

  19. Driftforge

    Having discovered he was being betrayed by his own state

    Fix that and it makes more sense.

  20. jupes

    Fix that and it makes more sense …

    … even if it is bullshit.

  21. blogstrop

    I’m much more worried about the potential for govt’s to accumulate and use private information against their own citizens.

    Then be careful who you elect.

  22. Chris M

    Blogstrop: “Why is this all necessary? Because of slack immigration rules. Stop muslim immigration should be the first thing.”

    But that is the delicious and hilarious irony – the US authorities can’t spy on mosques as they are deemed ‘sensitive’. Need special permission, basis all that…. like giving them a bypass lane at the security counter so they don’t have to show their face. As Steyn put is so well “the bozo Leviathan sees everything and nothing”.

  23. WhaleHunt Fun

    If the pussiliant canker known as the greens can get control of the senate, I wouldn’t trust the govt to know my mailing address let alone the content of my emails. The cretins are present in such numbers in our population that democracy does not function. The poisoned dwarf is level pegging FFS.

  24. Leo G

    No, embarrassing the government is not treason. But what is thinking that the government is embarrassing?

  25. Embarrassing the government is not treason.

    No, but if that’s all he was guilty of then he’d be doing guest appearances on Saturday Night Live rather than living in a Russian transit lounge.

    Exactly. If you want to blow the whistle, fine. But where you go and what you do once you’ve done it says a great deal about you.

  26. The Consigliere

    peturbed:

    But where you go and what you do once you’ve done it says a great deal about you.

    I think it says that he doesn’t want to got to jail. That’s all of us, except we probably won’t put ourselves in risk for the greater good like he has done.

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