The Washington Post's Astounding and Dangerous Snowden Hypocrisy

P. Gardner Goldsmith | September 20, 2016
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As a journalistic institution, the dusty old Washington Post has a checkered reputation. Some Americans considered the paper an emblem of heroism thanks to the break its reporters Woodward and Bernstein made in the 1970s Watergate Scandal. Others cite the paper as one of the most economically left-leaning, pro-nanny-state rags in the nation.

But whether left, or right, or centrist, or anything in between, the Post editors have just sent readers worldwide a signal that they should never be trusted while they sit in control. On Saturday, September 17, the editors of the paper published a piece stating that -- regardless of some of the important 2013 revelations that former National Security Administration employee Edward Snowden produced about titanic unconstitutional surveillance activity being conducted by the US government -- he should not be pardoned, in fact, he should be prosecuted for spying, because, see, he broke the law.

This coming from one of the four publications (including The Guardian, The New York Times and Intercept) that gained new fame and accolades for releasing his “illegal” information to the world. This from a publication that was “awarded” the once-venerable Pulitzer Prize for Journalism for precisely those publications!

Like a cheating spouse caught at a divey bar with the mistress, the Post editors explain to us that “it’s complicated.” When it comes to their hypocrisy, we just don’t understand. We need to be enlightened, like them. And then they make it worse, by claiming that Mr. Snowden’s revelations led to “reforms” that stopped the NSA from collecting electronic data, which is lying by omission, because after the NSA was forced by public outrage to “stop” its collection of e-data, the Congress and Obama Administration employed a backdoor move they’d been attempting for years. They gave phone carriers and internet corporations legal immunity from personal suits if they would collect the data and hand it over to the US government any time the government issued a FISA “warrant” – which meant any time.

So not only did the so-called newspaper of record stab Mr. Snowden in the back, making hay off his revelations in 2013 when it was opportune to do so, then calling for his prosecution for revealing the very information that got them the Pulitzer for “journalism,” the Post stepped even further, adding the absolute fiction that things have substantively changed in US practice when it comes to breaking the Fourth Amendment.

Let’s get some things straight. There is no question that what Edward Snowden did was proper and Constitutionally sound. Not only was it Constitutionally sound, as an employee of the US government, he had a duty to reveal anti-constitutional activity by US government agents -- and what the NSA was doing and is still doing is patently, blatantly unconstitutional.

He broke laws that were unconstitutional. He revealed criminality on a scale so vast, it had never been seen in US history. He ended his career, and those who supported him or helped get his revelations to the wider media (Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, and Ewan MacAskill), were hounded and persecuted by US government officials and international police. The idea that the editors of the Post would reap the benefits of their heroism, then pounce on them, call for Snowden to be prosecuted for espionage, and subsequently mislead readers into believing that everything is all hunky dory in Spyville USA, is revolting and dangerous.


There is one legal standard by which a US employee should be measured: The US Constitution. Any unconstitutional statute or hidden “practice” that is broken by such employees is a case of, as Thomas Aquinas famously said, “Lex Malla, Lex Nulla” – bad law is no law. Mr. Snowden had not only a Constitutional duty to report the wrongdoing of the US government, he had a moral imperative. If he did not report the crimes, he would be culpable. His moral code and belief in liberty led him to tell the truth, and flee his home nation, and the arguments made against him are specious and anti-constitutional poison.

The activity of the NSA – using bogus “permission slips” called “FISA Warrants” to spy on virtually everyone, any time – was based on a pile of corrupt legal maneuvers going back to the infamous Olmstead Supreme Court decision of 1928, and amplified after the false “reforms” of the “Church Committee” in Congress led to the “Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act” and a gang of shadowy, judges issuing non-public, non-specific, non-warrants that have rubber-stamped CIA, FBI and NSA spying on people for decades.

The Fourth Amendment is clear. If an agent of the state – at any level, be it federal, state, or local, wishes to search a person or his belongings or correspondence, that agent of the government is required to first get a warrant, from a judge, citing the individual to be searched and the items sought. The process is supposed to be public, because the people of colonial America had experienced great hardship in places like Boston when British government agents randomly and arbitrarily stopped people on the streets or entered homes to “search” for whatever they wanted.

Mr. Snowden not only deserves a pardon, he should be thanked for standing up for the original meaning of the Fourth Amendment, and opening some eyes to the malfeasance of the US government.

By publishing its editorial, the Post not only reveals itself to be untrustworthy and back-stabbing, it reveals itself to be shilling for the current unconstitutional activity of the FISA court, a court which, by any normal constitutional standard, should not exist, and is dangerous to human liberty as long as it does exist.

By association, the Post editors show themselves to be either unfamiliar with the Constitution and natural law, or dismissive of it when it serves their purposes. If a man had revealed to them the poison of the “Fugitive Slave Law” in the 19th Century, but people said, “it’s the law,” would the editors of the Post have returned runaway slaves, because the government said so?

One can only wonder, and suggest that if Mr. Snowden should ever return to the US, he does not ask for asylum from anyone working for the Washington Post.