The recent revelations concerning the depth of domestic spying, along with the earlier revelations concerning the depth of the extensive US surveillance activities have begun to create a division among us. When it was the first revelations by WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, it was easy to say this was an act to hurt the US. However, since then we have had the actions of Bradley Manning, and most recently Snowden. Again, the public is being persuaded that these individuals are acting in a great disinterest to the security of the United States. Indeed they face prosecution and even death for their acts.
However, while the world focuses on Washington’s pursuit of NSA whistleblower Ed Snowden, another much higher ranking member of the US power structure has been indicted for espionage this week…
US General James Cartwright was regarded by Washington insiders as ‘Obama’s General’, and now he’s facing prosecution for blowing the whistle on ‘Operation Olympic Games’ which planted the Stuxnet and Flame viruses in Iranian nuclear facilities in order derail Iran’s civilian nuclear program. At his retirement, he was lauded by the Secretary of Defense as one of the most competent and trustworthy generals ever to serve his country. At closer examination, it appears that Cartwright’s revelations didn’t so much harm US interests per say, but they hindered Israeli ambitions towards a war with Iran. This is a man that gave his entire life to the defense of this country, and more importantly, the principles of freedom and democracy. So what is the truth? Are these men of principle or are they men acting with criminal intent?
Whistleblowing reflects doing the right thing. It exposes wrongdoing. Whistleblowers do so because it matters. Are these men following a noble tradition that others before them established? Expressions of patriotism can reflect good or ill. Samuel Johnson said it’s the last refuge of a scoundrel. Thomas Paine called dissent the highest form of patriotism.
According to Machiavelli; “When the safety of one’s country wholly depends on the decision to be taken; no attention should be paid either to justice or injustice, to kindness or cruelty, or to its being praiseworthy or ignominious.”
Philosophy Professor Stephen Nathanson believes patriotism involves:
- special affection for one’s own country;
- a sense of personal identification with the country;
- special concern for the well-being of the country; and
- willingness to sacrifice to promote the country’s good.
Socrates once said: “Patriotism does not require one to agree with everything that his country does, and would actually promote analytical questioning in a quest to make the country the best it possibly can be.”
Thierry Meyssan poses the question best. “Are American public servants, civilian or military, who face a minimum of 30 years in prison for revealing U.S. state secrets to the press “whistleblowers” exercising power in a democratic system, or are they “resistors to oppression” at the hands of a military-oligarchic dictatorship? “
The answer to this question does not depend on our own political opinions, but on the nature of the U.S. government. The answer completely changes if we focus on the case of Bradley Manning, the young leftist Wikileaks soldier, or if we consider that of General Cartwright, military adviser to President Obama, indicted Thursday, 27 June 2013, for spying.
The President of the United States and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Woodrow Wilson, tried to confer on the Executive branch the power to censor the press when “national security” or “the reputation of the government” are in play. In his speech on State of the Union (7th of December 1915), he said: “There are citizens of the United States … who have poured the poison of disloyalty into the very arteries of our national life, who tried to drag the authority and reputation of our government in contempt … to destroy our industries … and degrade our policy in favor of foreign intrigue …. We are without adequate federal laws …. I urge you to do nothing less than save the honor and self-respect of the nation. Such creatures of passion, disloyalty, and anarchy must be crushed.”
Before we collectively rush to judgment about these men and these acts, we must ask ourselves is this a question of silence, not secrecy? How we collectively react may very well determine our own future and above all our right to what privacy and freedom that remains in this age of hyper-technology and data acquisition. What does your gut tell you? This is one time we should forget what we are hearing in the press or from the government, but instead listen to our hearts.