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Ellsberg: Snowden Saving America’s Constitution

Edward Snowden

Legendary Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg has written a supporting article in the Guardian about Edward Snowden, the man behind the recent leaking of the NSA’s secret program to spy on Americans without a warrant.

Ellsberg writes:

In my estimation, there has not been in American history a more important leak than Edward Snowden’s release of NSA material – and that definitely includes the Pentagon Papers 40 years ago. Snowden’s whistleblowing gives us the possibility to roll back a key part of what has amounted to an “executive coup” against the US constitution.

Since 9/11, there has been, at first secretly but increasingly openly, a revocation of the bill of rights for which this country fought over 200 years ago. In particular, the fourth and fifth amendments of the US constitution, which safeguard citizens from unwarranted intrusion by the government into their private lives, have been virtually suspended.

The government claims it has a court warrant under Fisa – but that unconstitutionally sweeping warrant is from a secret court, shielded from effective oversight, almost totally deferential to executive requests. As Russell Tice, a former National Security Agency analyst, put it: “It is a kangaroo court with a rubber stamp.”

Ellsberg sees parallels to his actions in leaking secret negative assessments of the Vietnam War and Snowden’s disclosures of a secret program threatening the liberty of all Americans. Ellsberg hopes that the public will put pressure on Congress to form an investigative committee to uncover what is really going on with the NSA spying program.

Pressure by an informed public on Congress to form a select committee to investigate the revelations by Snowden and, I hope, others to come might lead us to bring NSA and the rest of the intelligence community under real supervision and restraint and restore the protections of the bill of rights.

Snowden did what he did because he recognised the NSA’s surveillance programs for what they are: dangerous, unconstitutional activity. This wholesale invasion of Americans’ and foreign citizens’ privacy does not contribute to our security; it puts in danger the very liberties we’re trying to protect.

Congress may have to form a special investigative committee given that Snowden revealed that Direct of National Intelligence James Clapper appears to have misled Congress previously. A special committee with special powers is needed or the NSA’s violations of the Constitution may go unchallenged.

CommunityThe Bullpen

Ellsberg: Snowden Saving America’s Constitution

Edward Snowden

Legendary Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg has written a supporting article in the Guardian about Edward Snowden, the man behind the recent leaking of the NSA’s secret program to spy on Americans without a warrant.

Ellsberg writes:

In my estimation, there has not been in American history a more important leak than Edward Snowden’s release of NSA material – and that definitely includes the Pentagon Papers 40 years ago. Snowden’s whistleblowing gives us the possibility to roll back a key part of what has amounted to an “executive coup” against the US constitution.

Since 9/11, there has been, at first secretly but increasingly openly, a revocation of the bill of rights for which this country fought over 200 years ago. In particular, the fourth and fifth amendments of the US constitution, which safeguard citizens from unwarranted intrusion by the government into their private lives, have been virtually suspended.

The government claims it has a court warrant under Fisa – but that unconstitutionally sweeping warrant is from a secret court, shielded from effective oversight, almost totally deferential to executive requests. As Russell Tice, a former National Security Agency analyst, put it: “It is a kangaroo court with a rubber stamp.”

Ellsberg sees parallels to his actions in leaking secret negative assessments of the Vietnam War and Snowden’s disclosures of a secret program threatening the liberty of all Americans. Ellsberg hopes that the public will put pressure on Congress to form an investigative committee to uncover what is really going on with the NSA spying program.

Pressure by an informed public on Congress to form a select committee to investigate the revelations by Snowden and, I hope, others to come might lead us to bring NSA and the rest of the intelligence community under real supervision and restraint and restore the protections of the bill of rights.

Snowden did what he did because he recognised the NSA’s surveillance programs for what they are: dangerous, unconstitutional activity. This wholesale invasion of Americans’ and foreign citizens’ privacy does not contribute to our security; it puts in danger the very liberties we’re trying to protect.

Congress may have to form a special investigative committee given that Snowden revealed that Direct of National Intelligence James Clapper appears to have misled Congress previously. A special committee with special powers is needed or the NSA’s violations of the Constitution may go unchallenged.

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Firedoglake.com. Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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