37°FFog/MistFull Forecast

Snow job by a hero or traitor

Published: Wednesday, July 31, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT

The blogosphere is divided regarding Edward Snowden – a hero or a traitor? A crucial element is missing in nearly everyone’s analysis. A timeline would help clarify the real issue.

In March, James Clapper, director of national intelligence, testified before Congress. When asked whether NSA collected “any” type of data on millions of Americans, he answered, “no.”

Given that Clapper was sent this question in advance, and given the word “any” is hardly ambiguous, everyone pretty much acknowledges his answer was a bald-faced snow job, delivered under oath. We lawyers call this “perjury” (knowingly making a false material statement under oath).

Setting aside the question why this guy isn’t being prosecuted for lying to Congress (surely a bad thing), it’s noteworthy Snowden spilled the beans on NSA surveillance in May.

Having reviewed the timeline, now we can do a proper analysis of Snowden’s actions.

There can be no dispute he violated a statute (note I didn’t say “broke the law”). The argument against Snowden asserts that, when there’s a wrongdoing in a democratic society, one has to go through the proper channels to have it corrected.

What proper channels? Our representatives in Congress. They voted for the rascal (excuse me, “Patriot”) Act; they appropriated money for the NSA, the ball is ultimately in their court. If they knew of abuses, we’d expect them to fix the problem.

Except – they didn’t know of abuses. The person to whom they pay our money lied to them, thus preventing the problem from being addressed “through the proper channels.”

It’s this crucial fact – the criminal breakdown of accountability by our servants – that casts Snowden’s actions in an entirely different light. Having lied to its employers – us – the government is prevented from complaining about Snowden. Had the government not lied, he wouldn’t have leaked.

Note to readers: Dmitry Feofanov of is a lawyer.

Get breaking news sent to your phone. Sign up for text alerts from Sauk Valley Media!

National video

Reader Poll

There’s a movement afoot in the Illinois Legislature to name former President Barack Obama’s birthday (Aug. 4) as a legal holiday in Illinois. What do you think?
Good idea
Bad idea
Not sure
No opinion