It’s Just His Opinion

Because my final masters paper is due in less than a week, I’ll be brief in this post. After all, the keys to fixing terrestrial radio cannot simply write themselves. Anyways, onto the Snowden headlines!

Since we last spoke, nothing monumental has occurred in this case. Edward Snowden formally put in his application for temporary asylum with Russia, but we all saw that coming from miles away. The official application however puts Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin in a rough spot. He does not want to further damage his country’s tenuous relationship with the United States. But he also thinks that this whole situation will eventually blow over and work itself out. According to New York Magazine, Putin is not really sure what to make of Snowden himself.  “He’s a young man,” said Putin. “In fact, I do not even really understand how he intends to continue to build his life. But it was his destiny and his choice. And we have our own national objectives.” I think that as long as Snowden keeps his word regarding the end to leaking information during his stay, Putin will grant him temporary, but not permanent, asylum. In Putin’s eyes, the sooner Snowden leaves, the better.

Here lies the real issue at hand. Obama is supposed to pay a visit to Russia in the coming months in order sit down with Putin and well, have a chat regarding said tenuous relations. According to the BBC, “Mr Putin is clearly aware of the sensitivities involved, and the issue risks overshadowing talks with US President Barack Obama who is due to visit Russia in September.” I’m sure that no one wants the Snowden asylum issue to interfere with these talks, including Snowden himself. However, the tedious relations will become even more tense if asylum is granted. You better hold onto your hats readers, because once an asylum, temporary or permanent, decision has been made, this story will become a lot more interesting. 

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Privacy vs. Protection

In recent developments, Edward Snowden is perceived to have decided to call Venezuela his new home. According to CBS News, Venezuela seems to be the best choice because they are the most well equip nation to get Snowden there safely and keep him protected from extradition. Venezuela Foreign Minister, Elias Jaua, states, “Even if we wanted to, and we don’t, we wouldn’t extradite him, nor should we because it is not legal nor ethical.” Although a destination has finally been decided upon, the mission to get Snowden to safety is far away from complete. Currently, Snowden’s route on his “flight of liberty” has yet to be decided, and according to New York Magazine, the journey could become very costly. “A former CIA analyst suggested a private jet, which could run up to $200,000, but might be able to make it to Caracas from Russia where, as far as we know, Snowden remains at Sheremetyevo Airport — without refueling. ” Edward Snowden’s travel arrangements could take weeks to finalize.

The story of Edward Snowden brings many different points of debate to the forefront of the national conversation. The one that currently interests me the most is privacy vs. protection. When discussing a nation that was founded on certain established freedoms, is it more important to hold a citizen’s right to privacy in the highest regard? Or is the government’s obligation to protect its citizens from harm its highest responsibility?

There are strong arguments that could be made for both sides of this debate. Those who value their privacy very close to them have every right to do so. Whether there is a justifiable reason to do so or not, they have every right to stand up and say “I don’t want my government meddling in my private matters.” However, in this digital age, it is very difficult to keep even the most mundane activities private. With social media and internet usage at an all time high, media companies such as Facebook and Google are constantly selling your “private” information to third parties in order to create personalized advertising campaigns (always read your terms of use). And because new technology is developed every day to create shortcuts, most information is stored somewhere on the World Wide Web. Even medical records have become digitized and are living in an internet based cloud – without your permission. So although you may hold your private life in high regarding, there is unfortunately no such thing as 100% privacy in the digital age.

For those of you who find comfort in the large and soft security blanket that the USA has cast upon you, then I’m sure you can remain comfortable knowing that the NSA will not stop keeping track who you communicate with, when, where, and what about. But beware that in this post 9/11 world, “big brother” will always be watching. What I find troubling in this argument is that despite the claim that we are being watched for our own protection we are not fully protected. Terrible tragedies that have recently occurred in our country such as the Boston Marathon Bombings have taken place during this period and there was no way to prevent them. None of the communication took place online or over the phone, as far as we know. Even though our government wants to keep us safe, there is no way to fully accomplish that.

I hate to remain undecided in this heated argument, but I have already accepted that there is no way I will be able to keep my life completely private and protected. Every time I walk out of my apartment, I risk my well being in order to live my life. But it is a chance I am willing to take. Edward Snowden wanted to inform the citizens of this country that their daily activities are being monitored by the NSA, but I had assumed long ago that these activities would be monitored, especially if there was something to hide. From national terrorist suspicions to small-town local injustices, law enforcing departments constantly monitor activities such as phone calls and internet use in order to solve crimes. Why should this be any different? While I would rather my government not monitor my activities such as read personal texts from friends and family and look at pictures from the party I attended last weekend, I have nothing to hide or be ashamed of.

I can appreciate the urgent manner in which Edward Snowden attempted to warn us about our privacy being infringed upon, but the bottom line is that the government spy game has taken place for a number of years at this point. As long as you have nothing to hide, there is no use to fight it because the NSA will continue this for the foreseeable future.

The Adventures Of Edward Snowden

Hello fellow fans of The Americans, I hope you have found another television show to satiate your craving of secrets and spies until season two begins early next year. As you are aware, this blog is not only related to television shows but politics and current events as well. And one of the biggest political thrillers stories of not only this summer but the entire year has much in common with our beloved TV show. Like The Americans, Russia is a very large participant in this story as well as secrets, spying, and major privacy issues. It should come as no shock that the whistle-blowing case of Edward Snowden is a major news event, but the fact that he could potentially get away with it by seeking political asylum is the biggest surprise of all.

To give a brief summary, Edward Snowden is a former CIA analyst who believed that he could no longer stand by his government after witnessing how it treated its citizens. After Snowden saw that the NSA was essentially spying on Americans and others around the world through phone and the web (dubbed operation PRISM), he collected the classified documents which he has full access to and informed the UK publication, The Gauardian, of the acts that had been committed. Snowden immediately fled to Moscow by way of Hong Kong where he is currently seeking political asylum. The USA is currently attempting to extradite him, as they wish to bring him to bring him justice.

This story brings up a lot of interesting topics of debate such as loyalty to country vs. fellow man, patriotism vs. purgery,  and even privacy infringement despite the government’s retort that the spying was done with the safety of Americans in mind. These are all topics that I will discuss while reporting on this story. However, breaking news regarding the fate of Edward Snowden was released over the holiday weekend; the man has supposedly received grants for political asylum  from Venezuela, Bolivia, and Nicaragua.

Officials from these countries are quoted saying that they would be honored to protect Snowden from “persecution unleashed by the world’s most powerful empire” according to New York Magazine. Now that the man has options, he just needs to figure out how to make the journey. Snowden is currently still in Moscow and with no direct flight to any of these nations, Snowden may be forced to travel by way of Havana, Cuba, a country that is less than thrilled to harbor him. To make matters worse, American allies such as France and Spain refuse to have Snowden fly through their airspace. Snowden has finally found relief as Russia is more than willing to get rid of him, but he has to find a way to make it to safety first.

I’m still not quite sure how I feel about this story just yet. While many Americans don’t seem to feel that their liberties and freedoms have been infringed upon by NSA spying, many took to the streets in protest over the holiday. There is still more to the story to come, details will unfold over the coming weeks as we finally begin to figure out who in fact is the enemy in this situation. Is it the big government attempting to secure the country, or the man who saw his fellow citizens being taken advantage of and actually did something about it?