One of the many signs of the imminent collapse of the United States is that we can’t even agree on the meaning of treason any more.
As a former resident of Stony Point, N.Y., where Gen. Benedict Arnold sold his country down the river (the Hudson River) during the Revolutionary War, I have been a student of betrayal for many years. Arnold was so vilified that his very name became synonymous with treason, and every resident of Stony Point knew the story of how Arnold had met with a British officer named Major Andre and passed military secrets to him in order to aid the crown’s war efforts against the colonists.
But that was then. Back in the old days when I was growing up before the Vietnam War, Americans were for the most part united in our love of history — and our love of country. We understood that turning secrets over to the enemy made you an enemy, too.
Ah, youth! How innocent I was. Indeed, how innocent WE were!
Because now we have a country that doesn’t heap calumny upon the head of a traitor, but rather looks to lionize him, reward him and turn him into a culture hero.
I am speaking, of course, of Edward Snowden — a criminal who makes Benedict Arnold look like a rank amateur when it comes to treason. Snowden is the former National Security Agency contractor who released thousands, perhaps millions, of pages of classified documents to media outlets. Most, but not all, of these documents concerned secret surveillance programs run by various U.S. intelligence agencies.
Now, you may be uncomfortable with the fact that the federal government is performing surveillance on everyone from foreign dignitaries to your Auntie Grizelda, but that doesn’t change the fact that this was CLASSIFIED information, the release of which could do (and probably has done) immeasurable harm to our national security. It doesn’t change the fact that these programs were duly authorized by the American president and Congress. It doesn’t change the fact that Snowden has been accused of espionage by the United States government. It doesn’t change the fact that as a result of his independent decisions and actions, Islamic terrorists can sleep easier, knowing just how to avoid detection by programs that previously might have brought them to justice.
Yet despite all that, Snowden is held up in many circles as a hero. If those circles were all in Moscow or Mideastern capitals, it would not be surprising — since they have all benefited from his perfidy. But he is also a hero to many American journalists who think that any secret is a shame, and even to many conservatives who fear the federal government’s power more than they do the enemies of our civilization.
Call me old-fashioned, but I will never swoon over a self-declared whistleblower who puts American lives at risk because he doesn’t personally approve of policies put in place to make us safer in an ever more dangerous world. Nor do I care that Snowden leaked the secrets to the media, as if that having them publicly available made them less dangerous.
Indeed, Snowden has now provided cover to every spy who follows him. Rather than deliver secrets directly to the Kremlin or Tehran, enemies of America can now follow the Snowden protocol and simply email their dirty secrets to the New York Times. The damage is just as dangerously done, but instead of being hung for treason, the culprit can schedule an interviewed with Brian Williams on NBC and be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize to boot.
We live in an upside down world, and the sooner we realize it, the sooner we can get started rebuilding it from the bottom up.