By way of introduction, my name is Margery Hanson, I am a resident of Nevada, the Chapter Leader for PDA NV, who still expects integrity in our officials to uphold their oath of office, and an avid supporter of yours- in the 2004 campaign against Bush, I was a very vocal supporter in Nye County on your behalf and still remember who said “How do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam?”, it was you. I also remember what the Kerry Commission did concerning Iran Contra. I have long held high respect for your well reasoned positions and general class in your discharge of the various public offices, elected and appointed, that you have held. Your opposition to our engaging in wars, your support of those who acted in dissent against the majority, your spirit of collegiate debate and consensus-driven compromise- all of these aspects of your career have moved me to support you in the past.
Your recent comments regarding Edward Snowden- questioning his flight from U.S. jurisdiction to Hong Kong and now Russia, verbally indicting him as a “traitor”, and claiming that by avoiding this malicious prosecution that he is “violating his oath” are all contradictory to the man I have respected for most of my life. You have long been a fighter for the minority, for the oppressed, for those whose rights are abridged by the powerful- and now you defend that very abridgment and attack those who merely inform the populace that their rights are being abridged. In a nation where, in order to have standing to sue the government to stop such programs, one must first have evidence of having been targeted by such programs, releasing such information is critical to allowing Americans to take action to defend themselves against this surveillance. In your statements, you are passing judgement on the accused, and due to your high profile, your prejudice influences the thought process of millions of Americans- making it impossible for a fair trial to be had in this nation. Rather than not commenting on a case that is at trial, you have taken the action of actively siding with the prosecution, to the detriment of the defense’s ability to have his Constitutionally-guaranteed fair trial by his peers.
Mr. Snowden has acted in the best interests of Americans, ensuring that light has been brought to areas of our government that are overstepping their Constitutional authority and abridging the rights of ALL American citizens, no matter the legal convolutions and specific laws that may excuse such behavior. Our protection against ‘terrorism’ does not warrant the categorical and involuntary surrender of our rights to privacy and the requirement of a warrant for search- and despite the 1979 Supreme Court ruling, the Pen Register statute is un-Constitutional and should be repealed, and will not withstand a re-evaluation in the modern Supreme Court. The impact to activities by the NSA in defense of our nation does not outweigh the right of Americans to their Constitutionally-guaranteed freedoms. There is no case in which the ends justify these means- our freedom is more critical to this nation than being 85% certain of our safety and security instead of only being 82% certain.
Mr. Snowden is clearly a whistleblower, acting in the best interests of Americans by only releasing specific pieces of evidence that prove and illustrate the manner in which our rights have been abridged. He is not releasing massive data dumps of Secret or Top Secret information; he is selectively providing evidence that allows Americans to file suit by proving that they have standing to do so in federal court. He has done so at clear risk to his freedom, his affluent lifestyle, and even his life- making his actions heroic, as yours were in Vietnam, by disregarding his own well-being to help others. By prosecuting him (Wikileaks/Manning also, but their dumping of mass quantities of data is less forgivable) you are creating a chilling effect around whistleblowers in general- something that you, as a long-standing advocate of the minority, should oppose entirely- yet you are leading the charge, which will result in fewer individuals willing to act in the best interest of the nation by revealing corruption and illegal behavior in our government. This may not be your intent, but it is a direct result of the course of action you have chosen.
There is a line of compromise between what should be allowed to be kept secret and what the public needs to know about; Mr. Snowden’s disclosures have clearly and solidly fallen on the side of what the public needs to be informed of. Thomas Jefferson, in writing to Richard Price in 1789, said “Whenever the people are well informed, they can be trusted with their own government; that whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them to rights.” Mr. Snowden’s actions were and are designed to ensure that the people are well informed, despite the wishes and desires of those in power to ensure they are not well informed, and to keep secret the infringements of their Constitutional freedoms. They are as American an action that can be taken, an attempt to defend a free America from those who seemingly think the only way to protect America and Americans is to take away their freedoms.
Mr. Kerry, I ask you to revisit the mindset that led you to oppose the war in Vietnam, to evaluate this through the lens of the average American, to contemplate the meaning of a “free America” and ask yourself how your current position can be reconciled with those things. From my perspective, it can’t- and is part of the gradual erosion of freedoms that is continually chipping away at our greatness- which only exists because we are a free people. I beg you to extend the benefit of the doubt to Edward Snowden- to consider that his actions were not that of a treasonous individual, but that of an American hero trying to save our republic from those who would see it in chains.
Thank you for your time. Margery Hanson