Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login
Edward Snowden's Father Gives Interview: My Son Is Not A Traitor (today.com)
78 points by rpm4321 1490 days ago | hide | past | web | 34 comments | favorite

This story is not relevant to the privacy issues at hand. This is distracting from the conversation we should be having.

There is an important point in there though.

You are not your government. It's possible to love your country while not accepting that the actions and authority of your government are correct.

Edward Snowden obviously loves his country and the people of it.

> Edward Snowden obviously loves his country and the people of it.

I think Snowden's actions demonstrate a motivation more virtuous than preserving nationalistic ideals. His acted in the name of humanity! It wasn't just about American's 4th amendment, but the privacy of the people of the world.

> It's possible to love your country while not accepting that the actions and authority of your government

What is a country but the actions of it's government? A country without a government is just.. people?

A country minus the government is usually more than 'just people' - it's often a group of people with a shared history, culture, and language, what's often referred to as a 'nation'.

When people talk about their love of country as distinct from their love of their country's government, they're generally expressing appreciation for a set of national characteristics that'll likely endure for a lot longer than their current government.

> it's often a group of people with a shared history, culture, and language, what's often referred to as a 'nation'

But nationalism applies to a specific territory -- as defined by a government. It just seems arbitrary to love people of a certain territory and not another due to a border established by a monopolistic force on violence.

Nationalism applies to a nation. Some nations have governments, and some don't. Some governments govern over multiple nations peacefully, and many others don't. Some nations without governments have aspirations to form them, while others don't. Even tying a nation to a specific territory is problematic - some nations, often due to persecution, are widely dispersed in a diaspora.

You're trying to simplify something that's rather complex because you don't like nationalism - but people almost universally have more affection towards those who share things in common with them, and that's all nationalism is at its core. Borders on a map don't create this national affection - instead, nationalism creates the borders! When borders get out of sync with nations, you get war and unrest, both within and between countries, and when this happens, it's usually the border that eventually ends up getting adjusted, with exceptions only achieved through brutal repression.

It sounds like nation is another word for culture.. am I far off?

I guess I don't understand the point of nationalism -- besides the obvious -- to distinguish and dehumanize people of other cultures.

In your opinion, should people take pride in the color of their skin?

Culture is a big part of it, yes, but often 'nation' does include aspects of ethnicity. Like I said, the term is complex.

Nationalism is something people seem to naturally do. Whether it has a 'point' or not in 2013 is pretty irrelevant - if people are doing it anyway, it's important to try and understand it. While nationalism certainly does distinguish people, it doesn't follow that it dehumanizes others. Having a 'love of country' is perfectly compatible with recognizing the humanity of those not in it.

As for your last question, of course not. I'm a little curious why you asked me that. Do you think I'm some sort of racist for trying to explain a concept to you that's prevalent across the globe?

> Culture is a big part of it, yes, but often 'nation' does include aspects of ethnicity.

Google defines ethnicity as: The fact or state of belonging to a social group that has a common national or cultural tradition.

Sounds a bit circular.

> Nationalism is something people seem to naturally do.

Nationalism is something you do? How does one nationalism?

> Whether it has a 'point' or not in 2013 is pretty irrelevant - if people are doing it anyway, it's important to try and understand it

Based on what I've gathered, nationalism is a way to arbitrarily distinguish your culture from another in hopes of inevitably forming a border with your neighbor in order to enact a national government?

> Do you think I'm some sort of racist for trying to explain a concept to you that's prevalent across the globe?

Not one bit. I understand the notion is prevalent, but I wonder if we would be better off without it. Similar to racism, it's prevalent and we would be better off without it. I do feel that many arguments in favor of national pride work in favor of racial pride as well -- which is why I brought it up.

I don't fully agree. The article mentions that Snowden has offered to come back to the US if Holder agrees not to detain him before trial. Certainly a very important piece of news.

Snowden said he has told Attorney General Eric Holder through his lawyer that his son will probably return home if the Justice Department promises not to detain him before a trial nor subject him to a gag order.

Lonnie Snowden has not spoken to his son since April, but he fears that Edward may be manipulated by WikiLeaks handlers and would like to get in touch with him.

"[...] probably [...]"

"[...] has not spoken to his son since April [...]"

I disagree with you. Snowden coming back to the US for trial is irrelevant to questions about the actions of the NSA and the behaviour of your government.

Perhaps Snowden is afraid of what could happen to him before trial. The fact that his concerns might be well motivated is certainly relevant to the actions of NSA and the behaviour of your government.

NO. It doesn't.

The article mentions what his father has said. It says nothing about what Edward Snowden has offered.

The Government does not want him for being treasonous. The Government wants him for espionage.

If espionage is acquiring information to give to the enemy, and Snowden is wanted for giving information to the American people, does that mean that the Government thinks that the American people are the enemy?

I know this is a Ron Paul line, but the logic doesn't clearly follow. Snowden isn't "wanted for giving information to the American people". He didn't only release information to American citizens.

Of course, it is impossible to leak classified information publicly and not leak it to the "enemy", but this particular platitude bugs me. There are many reasons to be upset with the government right now, but the charges against Snowden don't imply the government thinks citizens are the enemy.

The definition of "enemy" has moved beyond state affiliation. It's not "the Russians are coming". We're worried about extremists of various ilks these days. So a citizen can be an enemy in the current line of reasoning.

Let's be real here -- nobody who follows these issues was surprised by what Snowden said or found it implausible. Our potential nation-state enemies, who are not completely inept, or operate assuming that the NSA had the capabilities described by Snowden. It's publically known that the US compromised Soviet undersea cables almost 40 years ago -- I'm sure Chinese Intelligence didn't assume that that capability still existed today. Anyone who has any business or knows anything about doing business in China knows about the Great Firewall and knows that a State entity has the ability to broadly and deeply monitor network activity.

The simple answer to the question is "yes".

The follow-up question is "why"? The evidence seems to be pointing towards the conclusion that there is such vast institutional corruption in place that they are protecting themselves, through intelligence gathering and militarized police forces, from any threat posed from the general population. Intelligence gathering allows them to keep tabs on any movements which threaten or expose them, e.g. Occupy, WikiLeaks, Snowden. They can then coordinate with law enforcement to disable and neutralize them, and the media is used to discredit them.

Interesting answer, potentially suggesting the people of the US are the enemy of the US government, simply because government wants to protect some corrupt corporations.

What a gloriously ignorant or deliberately disingenuous statement. Snowden is wanted for stealing state secrets. That = espionage. If a Chinese agent got caught for doing the same thing he'd be charged with espionage. Espionage has everything to do with the getting not the distributing. If you catch the person leaving the building, meaning the information was never shared at all, you can't go "Oh rats, can't charge him with espionage!" But that doesn't help when we want to do clever word smithing like the above.

For the record treason is a judgement on whether you used the information you stole (espionage) to harm your country. It's actually very telling that he's not charged with treason. The government is saying (today) they don't believe he did set out to hurt his country by simply charging him with stealing state secrets and chosing not to charge him for trying to damage his country with his actions after stealing them.


The Rosenberg's were convicted of giving nuclear secrets to the Soviets. That is a clearcut case of aiding and abetting our nation's enemies. Scooter Libby was sentenced to 30 months for outing a covert agent (sentence commuted by Bush). John Kiriakou similarly received a 30 month sentence for leaking classified info as well as outing a covert agent. Snowden leaked a load of classified data, but did so to journalists (as with Libby and Kiriakou) and did not out any agents or put any Americans in harms way. It seems likely that he would not come close to a capital case and would probably receive less than the 30 months imposed on leakers who outed agents.

No, it was not" clear cut case" - the Soviet Union was never actually a US 'enemy'. Therefore, they could not be tried for treason. But it was espionage indeed.

I think at this point in time we can assume the Government gets the right to define what is a traitor and what is not a traitor.

Thus, if the Government says Snowden is a traitor then Snowdon is a traitor. I don't think Snowden is a traitor but the Government gets the final say.

Different Governments might have different definitions of what would be a traitor but any sufficiently powerful Government can turn anyone into a traitor if they want to.

EDIT: I don't think this is right, but thats the way they work.

Perhaps a little more complex...The legislature should get to define a traitor (the criminal laws anyway); the legal authorities should get to arrest and charge the suspect (then again under the Constitution police powers were reserved for the State, but we say that Constitutional protection whittle away years ago, and now people accept the Federal police powers without question); finally the court should ensure due process and fair trial to every defendant.

However, like you elude, when the Executive creates a war on terror complete with special powers to identify individuals and non-state organizations as enemy combatants without any standards or review process, which in turn allows the government to circumvent due process to the point of allowing targeting kill lists and indefinite detentions without any due process or review there is a problem. In fact there is a word for people in power who centralize power and circumvent law and judicial review under the notion of necessity or "nation security"...well anyway we can all be thankful for terms limits (so long as terms limits are not circumvented under the notion of necessity...kind of like Bloomberg in NY)

> under the Constitution police powers were reserved for the State

No, they weren't. There is no such provision anywhere in the Constitution. The states are sometimes described as being different than the federal government under the federal Constitution because the former have general police powers while the latter has limited powers, but the key distinction there is "general" vs. "limited"; both have police powers.

First, the Constitution gives Powers (to the Gov.) and Rights (to the People), so you are not likely to find a "provision" expressly stating what the Federal Gov. does NOT have the Power to do, however, the Constitution has an Amendment on point:

10th Amendment: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

You can look as hard as you want you will not find policing powers delegated to the US government within the Constitution. Ergo police powers, that is the power to regulate behavior and enforce order within their territory for the betterment of the health, safety, morals, and general welfare are reserved to the State.

Moreover, " nowhere in the federal Constitution is Congress given authority to regulate local matters concerning the health, safety, and morality of state residents. Known as police powers, such authority is reserved to the states under the Tenth Amendment." (See: http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Tenth+Amendmen...)

In fact your comment proves my point that people accept Federal police power without question, to the point you make an legal argument supporting your point of view (and that of the US Gov.) and provide no support, other than stating "there is no such provision anywhere in the Constitution"

That leads to some unnerving scenarios.

The government most certainly can define what's considered 'treason' in the criminal code and then prosecute accordingly, so I understand where you're coming from. But words can and do have meanings independent of any one entity's attempt to define them, and sometimes it's possible to successfully challenge and change these definitions. For example, consider all the contention in American society around the definition of 'marriage'. The official government definition was not accepted by many, and because of the efforts of those people, the official government definition is changing.

Actually, no. The definition of treason is fixed in the Constitution. Congress can only define the penalties.

"Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court. The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted."

>or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.

Guess who defines "enemies"...The Government has the power to define individuals and non-state organizations as enemies. I am willing to bet you (without looking it up), nor a single politician in DC could give an exhaustive list of who our enemies are in the war on terror. So in reality you do not know who you can give or not give aid to without committing treason. In fact to the best of my knowledge the US charges do not specifically identify what enemy Snowden has aided.

The reality is even when you look up the list of known enemy combatants or the list of designated terrorist organizations, guess what there is still a secret list, that a.) the public does not know who is on that list (meaning the US citizens, in limited instances, are not even allowed to know who we are at war with, or who our enemies are); b.) US citizens are not even allowed to know the criteria that can get someone on the list. So I ask when we have enemies who are secret how do you know who you can and can not assist? In the case of Al Qaeda, the reality is the US Government was the most responsible for aiding (financing, training, and arming) than any other State I can think of.

Ah, right you are.

Yet another mobile device hostile site

"My Homer is not a communist. He may be a liar, a pig, an idiot, a communist, but he is not a porn star!"

I know, I know: this isn't Reddit, but I couldn't resist.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | DMCA | Apply to YC | Contact