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What Happened to Just Quitting?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Edward Snowden is not a hero. He's a 29-year-old former security guard at the National Security Agency who ended up knowing way too much about what goes on at the NSA, CIA and the rest of the intelligence community.


In case you missed it over the weekend, he is the kid who spilled the beans about the NSA's PRISM program.

Snowden is now in Hong Kong, probably awaiting a fairly severe knock on his hotel room door by some Chinese cop who will ask him nicely to put his hands behind his back and provide the story line for next season's "Locked Up Abroad."

There is a serious flaw in Edward Snowden's and Bradley Manning's (the U.S. soldier who copied and sent miles of secret messages to Wikileaks) claims that they were looking out for you and me.

As a taxpayer, I'm not paying you to look out after my Fourth Amendment rights. I'm paying you to do whatever job you were hired to do, and if you find that job too ethically distasteful, then you should quit.

But keep your mouth shut.

If everyone is allowed to decide for themselves what is legal and ethical and what is not, then society - not just American society - will collapse. I happen to hate bicycle riders who run stop signs. I think that America would be far better off if bicycle riders who run stop signs are rendered incapable of riding a bicycle at all.

You disagree? Too bad. Under the Snowden/Bradley Rule, I get to pick and choose which laws I obey and which I violate.


You can decide to rat out the barrista at your local Starbucks who gives the cute girl from down the block a Grande every day when she only pays for a Tall.

Or you can decide to use your get-out-of-jail-free card to inform on that guy on the fifth floor who is always bragging about his landscapers being from Mars and thus are Little Green Men without Little Green Cards.

If you read or watch the Guardian's interview with Snowden, the first thing that comes to mind is this: Who is in charge of H.R. at the CIA, the NSA and Booz Allen Hamilton - all of whom Snowden has worked over the past four years?

The NSA is tracking phone calls and Google searches because that's what it's in business to do. The only reason the NSA exists is to track phone calls and Google searches - or some facsimile of those things. The CIA is spying on people because that's what we pay them to do.

It is a little hard to swallow the notion that this kid can be smart enough to go from security guard to CIA covert operative and Booz Allen consultant and yet look like the main character in an Edvard Munch painting when he finds out that the NSA and CIA are snooping on people.


I have an advantage over most of you in that I've finally grown into being a curmudgeon. I'm 66-years-old, cranky most of the time, and if the government wants to track who I call and what I download, then have at it.

However, if you are 28 and think you have a future in the government that might include a job requiring Senate confirmation, you probably should be worried.

Edward Snowden should be extradited from Hong Kong and tried in the United States. If he is found guilty - and given his public interviews it won't take Rudy Giuliani or Chris Christy to get a conviction - he should go to federal prison for a long time.

While he's there, I hope that the U.S. Government's security services will continue to do what they are paid to do.

I hope.

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