While the government and defenders of the NSA surveillance program continue to want to paint Ed Snowden out to be a spy and trying to "aid the enemy," public opinion continues to side with Snowden and believe that he's a clear whistleblower, calling attention to government excess. Glenn Greenwald has published a fascinating email exchange between Snowden and former Senator Gordon Humphrey
, who apparently sent an unsolicited email to Snowden to thank him for exposing government wrongs.
Provided you have not leaked information that would put in harms way any intelligence agent, I believe you have done the right thing in exposing what I regard as massive violation of the United States Constitution.
Having served in the United States Senate for twelve years as a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, the Armed Services Committee and the Judiciary Committee, I think I have a good grounding to reach my conclusion.
I wish you well in your efforts to secure asylum and encourage you to persevere.
Kindly acknowledge this message, so that I will know it reached you.
Gordon J. Humphrey
Former United States Senator
Think about this for a second. Here is a former US Senator -- a member of the Foreign Relations, Armed Services and Judiciary Committees -- telling Snowden that he supports his effort, agrees that the surveillance program is a "massive violation" of the Constitution, and wishes him well in finding a country that will protect him from the US
. That's really rather incredible, but it shows just how far the current US government is taking things in trying to demonize Snowden. Humphrey recognizes that the leak helped expose a questionable program, hasn't "aided our enemies" and is supporting Snowden remaining outside the hands of US law enforcement.
Snowden's response, by the way, is quite eloquent, and presents Snowden's arguments even better than I've seen him express them elsewhere. He also, strongly, refutes the claim that many have made that Snowden must have given the contents of the documents he copied to the Chinese or the Russians. He notes that keeping such things secret is his specialty, and he set things up carefully to avoid anyone else getting their hands on the documents:
Thank you for your words of support. I only wish more of our lawmakers shared your principles - the actions I've taken would not have been necessary.
The media has distorted my actions and intentions to distract from the substance of Constitutional violations and instead focus on personalities. It seems they believe every modern narrative requires a bad guy. Perhaps it does. Perhaps, in such times, loving one's country means being hated by its government.
If history proves that be so, I will not shy from that hatred. I will not hesitate to wear those charges of villainy for the rest of my life as a civic duty, allowing those governing few who dared not do so themselves to use me as an excuse to right these wrongs.
My intention, which I outlined when this began, is to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them. I remain committed to that. Though reporters and officials may never believe it, I have not provided any information that would harm our people - agent or not - and I have no intention to do so.
Further, no intelligence service - not even our own - has the capacity to compromise the secrets I continue to protect. While it has not been reported in the media, one of my specializations was to teach our people at DIA how to keep such information from being compromised even in the highest threat counter-intelligence environments (i.e. China).
You may rest easy knowing I cannot be coerced into revealing that information, even under torture.
With my thanks for your service to the nation we both love,
Of course, it's one thing to claim that they cannot get access to the documents, and a different thing to actually keep those documents safe. However, given everything Snowden has done so far, it's shown that he was exceptionally careful in how he's acted with the release of the documents to date, and I have little doubt that he's taken significant precautions to keep them out of the hands of those governments, contrary to the claims of those who are seeking to tar and feather him.
Separately, Greenwald contacted Humphrey to confirm the email, and Humphrey provided even more on his thoughts about Snowden which are worth publishing:
Yes. It was I who sent the email message to Edward Snowden, thanking him for exposing astonishing violations of the US Constitution and encouraging him to persevere in the search for asylum.
To my knowledge, Mr. Snowden has disclosed only the existence of a program and not details that would place any person in harm's way. I regard him as a courageous whistle-blower.
I object to the monumentally disproportionate campaign being waged by the U.S. Government against Edward Snowden, while no effort is being made to identify, remove from office and bring to justice those officials who have abused power, seriously and repeatedly violating the Constitution of the United States and the rights of millions of unsuspecting citizens.
Americans concerned about the growing arrogance of our government and its increasingly menacing nature should be working to help Mr. Snowden find asylum. Former Members of Congress, especially, should step forward and speak out.
It seems unfortunate that we live in a country where the reaction to Snowden is considered reasonable by some. Yes, the government is clearly embarrassed by the leaks, but that's because it's now clear they were hiding things that either they shouldn't not have done in the first place, or which should never have been hidden. Embarrassment is a terrible feeling, but it's no excuse for turning a whistleblower into a fugitive.