We hear of real treason only when the government announces the arrest, death or flight of the alleged traitor, because almost inherent in treason is the secrecy of the crime, which can persist for years without detection, for example in the cases of Aldrich Ames (CIA), Robert Hanssen (FBI), John Anthony Walker (Navy), Jeffrey Carney (Air Force), Clyde Lee Conrad (Army) or George Trofimoff (Army Reserve). Traitors don’t disclose government secrets to the world, risking immediate arrest. They keep the secret of their service to the enemy under wraps as long as possible, not only because it is a crime but because it is a profitable one, at least in the notorious cases noted above. So Julian Assange, Private Bradley Manning, Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald, whether you call them whistleblowers or not, heroes or villains, are not traitors.
With that clarification established, three valuable and interesting insights into what has gone on, all from non-pundit sources. One sums up what’s at stake in the government’s secrecy-enabled assault on privacy, which only unlawful conduct could have uncovered, and where despite the President’s statements, whistleblower protections are simply not there.
The second, no liberal darling, reminds us of what the oath of office binds our leaders to defend: not the government in power or its organs of foreign policy, national intelligence or homeland security, but the Constitution itself.
The third, a career warrior who lost a son to war, shows why so many in power are so quick to demonize Manning and Snowden:
By taking technology that the state employs to manufacture secrets and using it to make state secrecy impossible, they put the machine itself at risk. Forget al-Qaeda. Forget Iran’s nuclear program. Forget the rise of China. Manning and Snowden confront Washington with something far more worrisome. They threaten the power the state had carefully accrued amid recurring wars and the incessant preparation for war. In effect, they place in jeopardy the state’s very authority — while inviting the American people to consider the possibility that less militaristic and more democratic approaches to national security might exist.