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Ron Hart Columns: Snowden a hero or traitor?

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Snowden a hero or traitor?

June 26, 2013 - Orange County Register

By Ron Hart

While our angry and embarrassed U.S. government plays "Where's Waldo?" trying to capture NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden, the jury is still out on whether he is a hero or traitor.

It is one thing to reveal our government's domestic secret surveillance program. It is quite another to give our intelligence to enemies around the world.

Loosely defined, a "whistle-blower" is someone who hurts the other political party; a "traitor" is someone who hurts yours.

What fascinates me about this story is the divergence of opinion and the strange bedfellows it has created. Loony liberal Michael Moore and far-right Glenn Beck are actually in agreement, cheering Snowden on. Maybe it is a manifestation of their paranoia, or maybe they have a well-placed mistrust of government.

For now, liberals and libertarians are siding with Snowden, while RINOs and big-government Democrats (a.k.a. Washington) call for his head. When the whole of D.C.'s political class agrees on something, it scares me.

Republicans dislike President Obama because he is not Ronald Reagan, but they love their military-industrial contractor complex. Democrats are upset with President Obama because he is not candidate Barack Obama.

Men seem more upset than women are about Internet and cellphone snooping we have more browser history we'd like to remain secret. Women don't mind Obama surveillance; they think it's nice to have a man listen to them.

Snowden is scared because Obama's O-bots have a history of going after whistle-blowers who defy him. They now like going after any media that questions them. Obama long ago ceded any moral high ground; Democrats care only about maintaining power, and this threatens their power.

The media remains in the tank for Obama. Instead of backing Glenn Greenwald, the journalist in England who professionally broke the Snowden story, NBC's David Gregory suggested Greenwald should be arrested. If the U.S. mainstream media did their jobs, foreign journalists would not be continually breaking the stories.

The new $1.8 billion NSA snooping facility was built in the Mormon stronghold of Utah. CBS is already blaming the NSA scandal on President Romney.

This drama is playing out like a John Grisham novel. If I were Snowden and heard buzzing overhead when I arrived in Ecuador, I wouldn't presume it to be mosquitoes. Drone Ranger Obama could be after another U.S. citizen abroad.

I am pulling for Snowden as long as he does not give away any of our major secrets assuming he has some. He has the moral high ground. Premised on hyped-up post-9/11 fears, politicians since George W. Bush have built costly perpetual bureaucracies in Washington.

Let's not expect Russia or other countries to help our government when we were spying on them. Our politically correct establishment has punished Martha Stewart and Paula Deen (Americans now value their food more than their freedoms), yet we could not avert the Boston Marathon bombing even when Russian authorities gave us a warning on the Chechen brothers.

Suddenly, upon Obama's appeal to extradite Snowden, Vladimir Putin has become a civil libertarian. Obama, who boasted he was going to make other countries love us, looks hapless. If our government cannot free Justin Beiber's monkey from German authorities or get back the Super Bowl ring Putin stole from New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, it's doubtful they can get Snowden from Russia.

Our government fears that Snowden may be working for China. Because of that same government's lack of financial discipline, in the future we all will be working for China, just to pay off U.S. debts.

Obama is AWOL while his O-bots try to distance him from all the scandals. He has a $60 million trip to Africa, and his family spends the summer on Martha's Vineyard. I am not saying he does not deserve to do things with his daughters. Maybe for their birthdays he can give them the Jonas Brothers' phone and email records.

If this becomes a high-and-inside fastball thrown by Snowden to back the government off the plate and make it rethink what it is doing, then he has done us a service. Hopefully he makes the government rethink how they are treading on the Fourth Amendment and the Fourth Estate.

Perhaps the NSA, DOJ, Obama's White House and the IRS didn't violate any laws in doing what they did to us, but I find it more troubling that they did not have to.

2011 Benjamin Franklin Award Winner!

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Columns by Ronald Hart. Ron grew up in Tennessee and began writing a column for his hometown paper in 2002. He attended The University of Memphis and the Institute for Political and Economic Systems at Georgetown University. Ron graduated Magna Cum Laude and was elected student government president. Upon getting his MBA, he went to work for Goldman Sachs. He was appointed to the Tennessee Board of Regents by then Governor Lamar Alexander and is now a private investor. He appears on CNN and has been quoted in numerous publications including the Wall Street Journal. His columns reflect a rare combination of Southern libertarian views and humor. They have been described as "Lewis Grizzard meets P.J. O'Rourke with a dash of Will Roger's horse sense". His columns are carried by 30 newspapers with a total weekly circulation of approximately 1 million readers.