General Question

_Whitetigress's avatar

If Snowden is so glorious in his act against the NSA why has he escaped to the United States hugest rivals in China & Russia?

Asked by _Whitetigress (4362points) June 25th, 2013

Isn’t it plain to see he’s not only a whistle blower he’s also allowing China and Russia to sift through his belongings.

Isn’t this clearly treason? What’s your point of view?

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39 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

Because those are the only countries that are almost certain not to turn him over to the Great Satan.
The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

elbanditoroso's avatar


If he went to friends of the US, they would hand him back in a heartbeat. So he chose to go to places that do not particularly like the US.

The guy isn’t suicidal. Or stupid.

josie's avatar

He is most likely also a salesmen. I bet they are buying, too.

Blackberry's avatar

With this avalanche of leaks, I guess you could say he is…. (puts on glasses).....snowed in….

SavoirFaire's avatar

If you’re trying to escape someone, you don’t hide in their mother’s house. And if traveling to China or Russia turns a free man into a traitor, then the airline industry is going to be buried in charges of aiding and abetting treason.

The simple fact is that treason requires acting with for the purpose of giving aid to an enemy. Snowden’s intent, however, was to protect the civil liberties of American citizens. So unless the current government of the United States considers the American people to be among its enemies, Snowden cannot be guilty of treason. He may have violated civil law, but “treason” is not the proper word for his actions.

cheebdragon's avatar

Telling another country that we are spying on them is treason, even by legal definition.

“Under Article III, Section 3, of the Constitution, any person who levies war against the United States or adheres to its enemies by giving them Aid and Comfort has committed treason within the meaning of the Constitution. The term aid and comfort refers to any act that manifests a betrayal of allegiance to the United States, such as furnishing enemies with arms, troops, transportation, shelter, or classified information. If a subversive act has any tendency to weaken the power of the United States to attack or resist its enemies, aid and comfort has been given.”

Ron_C's avatar

Lets face it, Snowden exposed one of the world’s worst criminal organizations, the CIA. They feel free to put a hit on anybody, almost anywhere. China is one of the few countries capable of keeping the American Gestapo in check. If Snowden is ever captured by the U.S. or one of its allies, he is tortured and eventually murdered and it doesn’t make a difference who is in the White House!

YARNLADY's avatar

His movements are being orchestrated by the wikileaks organization.

WestRiverrat's avatar

There are several US allies that do not have carte blanc extradition treaties with the US. He could have gone to many of them with no fear of being extradited.

Heck during the Vietnam war Canada would not extradite draft dodgers or deserters. And several thousand Canadians served in Vietnam.

rojo's avatar

Safety. and because if he spreads his knowledge around he didn’t commit espionage because no one paid him for his info.
@elbanditoroso Friends? We have friends? Really?
@josie Would it make a difference to you if he just gave it away?
@WestRiverrat do you not think there would be grave repercussions rained down upon any ally that did not kowtow to our will? Why take the chance that they would value our money over our ideals.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@cheebdragon Here is the actual text of Article III, Section 3:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.

Under the law, then, there are only two ways to be guilty of treason: to make war against the United States of America (which requires gathering troops and at least one act of force), and to give aid and comfort to a group currently at war with the United States of America (that being what “enemy” means in the legal context). This is why the Rosenberg’s were charged with espionage rather than treason. As the Cold War was not a declared war, the Soviet Union did not count as an enemy under the law.

In any case, Snowden’s target audience was the population of the United States. That he happened to employ a public method of revealing his information that also told other people about our spying efforts is immaterial. That’s why newspapers cannot be convicted of treason or sedition for publishing information that the government would prefer to cover up. Furthermore, Snowden’s actions are covered by the Whistleblower Protection Act, which includes protections for those working in intelligence related fields.

WestRiverrat's avatar

@rojo no repercussions at all. What repercussions have been rained down on the Taliban for launching a series of attacks in the last week? They have been invited to negotiate with us, have those talks been cancelled? The Australians and New Zealanders refuse to let our Nuclear armed ships enter their ports, yet we still promise to protect them with those very same nukes.

El_Cadejo's avatar

Here is the thing I really don’t understand about this whole fiasco… If what the NSA was doing was completely legal (as they say) than why doesn’t the American population have the right to know about it? And to say it undermines the whole operation is bullshit. What terrorist would come to this country and not assume they’re being monitored and take actions to circumvent that?

I mean I doubt there were text messages like “yo… imma blow up da world trd cntr 2day u in?”

ReindeerMoon1's avatar

I’m guessing it’s because he wants to stay out of jail.

josie's avatar

If he gives it away it means he is naïve about geopolitics and the moral importance of the post-Enlightenment West. That makes him a loser in my opinion.
If he sells it, or stupidly gives it away, that makes him an amoral and confused tool of the anti-Enlightenment movement, which also makes him a loser in my opinion.
Either way, he is a loser.
I believe he will wind up dead. Not necessarily by Western ops, but by any body on Earth who wants what he has to sell, or donate, and having gotten it, does not want to be held to account for his presence in their midst. If he gets killed in some place, that place will always say the Americans did it.
This would never have happened if…
a. The US was not broke and
b. The President was not a weenie.

ragingloli's avatar

It also would not have happened if the Great Satan would not constantly spying on everyone.
The world should see this as an act of war and plant some mushroom shaped clouds in the colonies.

cheebdragon's avatar

@SavoirFaire A person commits the crime of treason if he levies war against his state or country or sides to its enemies, giving them aid and comfort. Treason is a crime under federal and some state laws. Treason is made a high crime, punishable by death, under federal law by Article III, section 3 of the U.S. Constitution: “Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.”

Under this article of the Constitution, no person shall be convicted of treason, unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court. Treason requires overt acts such as giving sensitive government security secrets to other countries, even if such countries are not enemies. Treason can include spying on behalf of a foreign power or divulging military secrets.

The majority of states outlaw treason in their constitutions or statutes similar to those in the U.S. Constitution. There have been only two successful prosecutions for treason on the state level, that of Thomas Dorr in Rhode Island and that of John Brown in Virginia.

US Legal

josie's avatar

So when the great geopolitical Reckoning arrives, who will you take sides with? It may not happen in your lifetime, but who knows, maybe it will.
Who will you sign on with?
The statist/Stalinist Chinese.
The primitively irrational Islamists?
Or the morally honest, but occasionally pragmatically clumsy Westerners who struggle, with democracy, to resolve their desire to create a balance between the human capacity to reason, and the equally human tendency to retreat to animalistic irrationality.

I think you are all talk. I believe that if and when the crunch comes, you will side with your Western protectors. And I also believe that if you are confronted with your words, you will scramble to deny them, like Judas.

Or maybe not.

But I would bet on the former.

Just my humble opinion.

ragingloli's avatar

Morally honest… yeah, right.
Nazi Germany was part of the west. Guess who you sided with.
The stalinist Soviets and Chinese.

It is the West that will side with the Chinese and Russians again, against the Fourth Reich, Nazi America.

cheebdragon's avatar

Nazi America??

LostInParadise's avatar

Has anybody else noticed how the U.S. government is playing it both ways? On the one hand they say that the spying is no big deal, they are not actually listening in on our phone calls, just monitoring who we are talking to. Then on the other hand they say that Snowden is a traitor for revealing what they do.

cheebdragon's avatar

It’s not a big deal that they spy on Americans, its not quite right, but its nothing new at this point. However it is a big deal to tell other countries that we spy on them, which is exactly why he is a traitor.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@cheebdragon Your entire argument so far has been based on copying and pasting things you don’t understand from legal dictionaries and now a business website. USLegal is not a reputable source, which should be obvious at a glance, and the bolded section of your copypasta is flat out incorrect. But let’s pretend for a moment that it is not. It would still not be enough to show that Snowden is a traitor because treason requires traitorous intent (here is a second-rate website confirming this, since that seems to be your favored type of source). Snowden’s intent was to reveal the program to US citizens. That it may have harmed US interests internationally is immaterial so long as his intent was not to commit treason. This is the sort of thing covered in any basic international law class, though seldom explained by free sources culling information indiscriminately.

_Whitetigress's avatar

Snowden has said our government spies on it’s citizens. He doesn’t state any cases of “good folks” getting into trouble with the NSA, etc. If U.S. citizens are going to assemble and protest the NSA isn’t going to stop them. The military isn’t going to stop them. The president isn’t going to stop them. Nothing is going to stop protest and assembly in the U.S.A.

So the only people the NSA doesn’t benefit are those who are involved with illegal activities anyhow. Even then most bozos are safe! (Example: Ohio sex slave owners, the thousands of pirates on the internet)

SavoirFaire's avatar

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
—Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sorry, @_Whitetigress, but I don’t buy the whole “if you have nothing to hide” line of argument. Privacy is not secrecy, and metadata is more powerful than most people think.

So why should we speak up now? Well…

First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the socialists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.


Even criminals have rights, and violating those rights in an effort to maintain the rule of law is self-contradictory. This is why Ben Franklin said that “those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” It makes no sense to give up what you are trying to defend as part of your defense. Strategically, it’s no different from sending your king on a suicide mission while playing a game of chess.

_Whitetigress's avatar

@SavoirFaire Ben Franklin? Really? That man that was part of the elite club? Ben Franklin is a joke. Most our founding fathers were. They wrote it all out to sound pretty. They didn’t speak for the poor and middle class. They spoke so that the elite could maintain wealth. And that new players, a select few, with the right amount of money, could also join. Money is the name of the game man.

El_Cadejo's avatar

Heyyy if you have nothing to hide you won’t mind me looking through your personal belongings will you?

SavoirFaire's avatar

@_Whitetigress When it comes to what is and is not constitutional—and treason is the only crime specifically defined in the US Constitution—I think you’ll find that the Founders and their opinions are not “jokes.” In any case, way to focus on a single sentence of my reply rather than the content of the whole. Besides, the sentiment is separable from the speaker. If you have a real argument, rather than the red herring fallacies and rhetorical nonsense on offer in your latest reply, please present that next time.

cheebdragon's avatar

@SavoirFaire no traitorous intent? He left the fucking country, he handed out documents to foreign countries to prove the United States was spying them, what are the good intentions behind doing that? I’m sorry you have an issue with the definition of treason, but you can google “Definition of Treason” and every fucking result says the same exact shit, add .gov at the end and still every single result has the same definition of treason. He’s a traitor, idolize him if you want, whatever, but at the end of the day that guy will still never set foot in America without being charged for his actions.

LostInParadise's avatar

What can a foreign country do with the information provided by Snowden? How is the U.S. compromised? I don’t see it. The only harm is that the U.S. loses a talking point. It is a little harder now for the U.S. to criticize Russia and China for spying on their citizens, because we do it also. The Russians and Chinese are getting a big laugh out of this and the U.S. is left with egg on its face. So the total harm is a little embarrassment. Nobody really dies of embarrassment.

ragingloli's avatar

Just remember that your country was founded by traitors.

cheebdragon's avatar

@LostInParadise Apparently they can do this

@ragingloli… snowden trying to establish a new country?

SavoirFaire's avatar

@cheebdragon Intent has a very specific meaning within the law, and there is no evidence that Snowden’s acts count as having traitorous intent under that meaning. He left the country to protect himself, not to harm the United States. In fact, he left the United States in order to help the United States because he thought that was the only way his whistleblowing would be successful and not get covered up. His intent was to help the American people by informing them of a violation of their rights.

As for the definition of treason, only one of us has provided it and that is me. Article III, Section 3 of the US Constitution outranks every free website you can find. I’m sorry that you have trouble understanding what the law means, preferring instead to read into it what you already believe, but your interpretation is mistaken. I have the US Constitution, an international law professor, and a constitutional law professor on my side. You have a second-rate business website.

As for whether or not Snowden will ever be able to set foot in America without being charged for his actions, I have never said he will be. But one doesn’t have to be guilty to be charged. We all know that. This is why Snowden has said in interviews that he never expects to see home again. That he would be charged, however, does not prove that he really is a traitor under the law. As that is the conversation we are having, you pointing out that the government would be willing to violate the law to continue covering up their other violations of the law is really quite irrelevant.

If you’d like to continue, you might try pursuing an actual education rather than relying on a continuous misreading and misunderstanding of Google results.

LostInParadise's avatar

@cheebdragon , There are obvious things that they should have already been doing to cover themselves, like keep creating new Internet accounts and keep changing cell phones, in addition to transmitting encrypted data. It makes things inconvenient, but this should have been standard procedure.

gorillapaws's avatar


What is America?

It’s not the land because that’s always changing, It’s not the people in it because they are born and die and immigrate in. It’s not our ancestry because our ancestors come from every corner of the planet, and they BECOME American. Ultimately, America is a set of principles and philosophies from the enlightenment; it is a set of beliefs that we all share about our rights and liberties that are absolutely fundamental to who we are as a nation and as a people. Most of these beliefs are set forth in our Constitution. It is the most sacred thing America has. Over a million American soldiers have given their lives defending those rights since our founding.

The NSA has wiped it’s ass with the Constitution, which they’ve sworn to defend. It is a branch of the military which is not allowed to be used against it’s own citizens. The real traitors here are the guys who approved this, the judge who authorized the program, and the ones who remained silent and complicit as they betrayed the trust and the liberties of the American people.

The real traitors are the ones who heard the 3 whistle blowers that “did it the right way” (the way @cheebdragon and others presumably would have preferred Snowden approach this) and did nothing. You remember their names right? Drake, Binney and Wiebe. No, never heard of them? Maybe because when you don’t leak anything nothing fucking happens and the illegal program that violates everything it means to be an American continues. Oh and the NSA ruined their lives for trying to protect the Constitution as they’re sworn to do. Cute.

Snowden is a patriot and a hero. He is right up there with Rosa Parks—or do you not like her because she broke the law to do what right?

I would rather suffer 100 more 9/11 attacks than have our country betray it’s own Constitution in the name of “security.” You can catch terrorists in many other ways, they’ve been doing it for centuries.

cheebdragon's avatar

@SavoirFaire You have the constitution behind you? It’s behind everyone in the United States if you think about it…..technically its even behind the NRA, I don’t remember anything in the constitution about limitations or restrictions on the right to bear arms. Probably because it was written around 1791, gun control wasn’t a big issue at that point. The constitution is pretty vague considering how much the world has changed since it was written. But you also have 2 professors behind you? Oh my! ......should I be impressed? It’s not everyday that you see someone attemp the adult equivalent of an 8 year old’s “you can even ask my mom!”. it’s interesting, but unfortunately I do not know your professors so using them to substantiate your opinion really doesn’t mean much. Lets try this,
How reliable is The Annenberg Institute as a source? Article III, Section 3 – What It Means

“Treason is the only crime specifically defined in the Constitution. According to Article III, Section 3, a person is guilty of treason if he or she goes to war against the United States or gives “aid or comfort” to an enemy. He or she does not have to physically pick up a weapon and fight in combat against U.S. troops. Actively helping the enemy by passing along classified information or supplying weapons, for example, can lead to charges of treason.”

“Vocal opposition to a U.S. war effort through protest and demonstration, however, is protected by the free speech clause in the First Amendment. A conviction of treason must be based either on an admission of guilt in open court or on the testimony of two witnesses.”

I’m guessing your professors haven’t gone over judicial interpretation yet?

I think in your rush to worship defend snowden you failed to comprehend what was actually said in my answers. Did I say that he would be charged with treason? No, I said that his actions fit the legal definition of Treason. considering how high profile he has been, I can’t imagine it would be terribly difficult to round up several witnesses. His intentions would be harder to prove but certainly not impossible since he could have accomplished his goal without bringing other countries into the mix.

@gorillapaws you would rather personally suffer 100 more 9/11 attacks? Trapped on the top floors until they collapsed or until the fire had driven you to jump out of the fucking building?

Rosa parks didn’t run from the government, a more fitting comparison would be someone like Roman Polanski. Civil rights is about standing your ground and making your cause heard, not hiding out for the rest of your life because you are affraid of federal prison.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@cheebdragon Non sequitur. When I say I have the US Constitution behind me, I mean it supports my claim about what constitutes treason. Of course we all have the Constitution behind us in the sense that it protects us all. But that doesn’t mean it agrees with all of us. As for the professors, the point is that they are better sources of what the law means than second-rate websites. If you refuse to acknowledge that some sources are better than others, then I might as well have ask a five-year-old to write out my interpretation in crayon and present it as proof. (And for what it’s worth, I’m finished with course work. I’ve done judicial interpretation. I’m neither a law student nor a lawyer, however. The law is simply something I have studied while pursuing my PhD in philosophy.)

As for the passage from the Annenberg Institute, it doesn’t contradict anything I’ve said. This is just another case of you copying, pasting, and bolding without understanding what it means. The law has to be taken as a whole, not as random phrases. Passing along classified information is not itself enough for treason. It must be passed to an enemy, and an enemy is someone with whom we are at war. This last bit is the point of contention that arose over your last copy and paste, though you seem to have forgotten that in searching out a new copy and paste.

And by the way, I can think that Snowden did the right thing without worshipping him. I don’t know him personally, so I can’t say if he’s a good guy or not as far as everyday life goes. My claims are quite simple: I do not think that Snowden’s actions satisfy the legal definition of treason, and I think his actions are morally justifiable (regardless of whether they are optimal). Given that the US Constitution specifically requires adhering to an enemy as part of the aid and comfort path to treason, and given that “adhering” and “enemy” both have specific legal meanings, it is my claim that Snowden’s actions to not rise to the level of treason.

This does not mean that I have discounted the possibility that a judge might disagree with me. I do not belong to the school of legal philosophy, however, that says judges are infallible. I rather doubt that you would think such a thing either. As such, your attempted barb regarding judicial interpretation is toothless (as well as irrelevant and mistaken).

And finally, I never said that you claimed Snowden would be charged with treason. What I said was “As for whether or not Snowden will ever be able to set foot in America without being charged for his actions, I have never said he will be.” This was said in response to your claim that “He’s a traitor, idolize him if you want, whatever, but at the end of the day that guy will still never set foot in America without being charged for his actions.” In your rush to embarrass yourself respond to my arguments, you failed to keep in mind the context not just of my answers, but of your own as well.

gorillapaws's avatar

@cheebdragon ” you would rather personally suffer 100 more 9/11 attacks? Trapped on the top floors until they collapsed or until the fire had driven you to jump out of the fucking building?”

I say that not to diminish how horrific 9/11 was, but to illustrate just how horrific it is that the government would be willing to secretly and fundamentally violate the Constitution, subvert the checks and balances in place, dismiss all criticism, keep it from the public and give the employees no alternative to report these issues without leaking to the press. The difference between the US and countries like Iran and Egypt under Mubarak, or Syria is that our leaders respect the authority of our constitution. When the government ignores the boundaries and checks on their authority, keeps it a secret and covers it up, we are in danger of loosing everything we love about our country.

This program could easily be used to throw an election, and what’s to stop them, how would we know? The trust that they would never illegally spy on citizens is gone.

“Rosa parks didn’t run from the government, a more fitting comparison would be someone like Roman Polanski. Civil rights is about standing your ground and making your cause heard, not hiding out for the rest of your life because you are affraid of federal prison.”

If Rosa parks knew she was going to be held in solitary naked all day for the rest of her life she might have done the same. The reality is that Snowden gave up everything he had in this world, forced to leave his great paying job in Hawaii, girlfriend, family, friends, citizenship, ability to ever return to the US, because he loved his country and knew the people of the US needed to know about the illegal program the NSA was running. That takes courage, honor and integrity. I don’t blame him for not wanting to spend the rest of his life being tortured for it like they’re doing with Bradley Manning.

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