The American people should thank the Washington Post, The Guardian and Edward Snowden.
It was announced on Monday that the two newspapers won a public service Pulitzer for their reporting on the NSA programs that were exposed when Snowden leaked classified documents related to the American government’s wholesale surveillance of its citizens.
The newspapers, and Snowden in particular, have been vilified by politicians and other media outlets for their actions. But what those critics apparently fail to realize is that the men and women who had the courage to bring the NSA’s programs into the light were exposing immensely pointless government practices that are diametrically opposed to the Constitution and, if left unchecked, will take us further into the abyss of a society where freedom and privacy no longer exist in any recognizable form. If the intelligence community can show us one credible instance where a major terrorist threat was stopped through its bulk collection of phone, text and email data, I’ll apologize for calling it a bloated, money-sucking blight on the American way of life. But it won’t happen, because that instance doesn’t exist.
Some politicians have called Snowden a traitor. They are the ones who are traitors. What Snowden exposed is an intelligence apparatus that is anything but intelligent, that sees no problem with eliminating civil rights and privacy protections guaranteed by the Constitution, under the guise of protecting us from the boogeymen who hate our freedom and everything this country stands for.
When we allow our government minders to ignore the provisions of the document they’ve sworn to uphold, the terrorists have already won. That’s what they want — for our system to crumble.
And that’s why we should thank the Pulitzer recipients and the man who made it possible. They are protecting our freedoms from the people who are supposed to be protecting our freedoms.
Michael Gebelein is managing editor of the Lincoln Times-News.