Imagine a world in which you proclaim your own legendary status, where you write the laws and interpret them, and you dictate a reality to which everyone else must submit.
Welcome to Edward Snowden’s World, where he is the center of the universe and everything revolves around him.
Snowden is free to be whatever he wants here. The former computer programmer at the National Security Agency (NSA) stole thousands of classified documents and turned them over to the foreign press, which qualifies him as a superhero in Snowden’s World.
He recently claimed to have been a CIA spy at one time and used a fake identity when he traveled overseas as an undercover operative for the (NSA). Such a disclosure enables him to portray himself as something of an international man of mystery, a 007 James Bond of sorts.
America is the freest country on the planet, but for Snowden this isn’t enough.
He is a state diplomat in Snowden land. He currently resides in the free and open society of Russia, where he can challenge President Vladimir Putin on state television with such penetrating questions as “you really don’t do all really those bad things they do in America, do you (sic)?”
Snowden is an accomplished constitutional attorney in his world. Only he — out of more than tens of thousands of employees at the NSA — possesses the wisdom to declare that it is operating outside the parameters of the Constitution. Such grand insights provide him with authority to steal hundreds of thousands of classiﬁed documents and distribute them to whomever he wishes.
Only his brilliant mind has the capacity to determine what will and will not damage the security interests of the United States.
Such brilliance elevates his intelligence to a level above that of his coworkers, his bosses, the executive branch, the judicial branch, the Legislature and the American people. Only Snowden decides what they should know.
There are no consequences for Snowden breaking the law in Snowden’s World. It’s where his massively inflated ego dictates the rules and determines which he will follow.
Not content to simply interpret the U.S. Constitution, Snowden fancies himself as a criminal lawyer who decides that the Espionage Act of 1917 — under which he would be prosecuted in the U.S. — is unfair to him. He will not return until he receives a special exemption that no other citizen would ever deserve or receive.
Of course Snowden is none of these things outside of his own mind. He is a delusional grown child living in exile for betraying his country.
He is no hero, no spy, and no lawyer.
He is simply next in line to such traitors as Aldrich Ames, Robert Hanssen, and Harold Nicholson, who all share one unifying characteristic: They don’t believe that the rules apply to them.
They betrayed their country when it entrusted them to help keep it safe from those who wish to do us harm.
Snowden acts like a little kid who just purchased his $1.99 spy kit at the local novelty shop that came with a magnifying glass, a funny little hat, and a pen with invisible ink.
I served 10 years on the U.S. House Intelligence Committee, and I had the distinct privilege of meeting with real U.S. spies throughout the globe.
Legitimate intelligence professionals operate in real-life conflict areas like Iraq and Afghanistan. They learn to speak languages with distinct dialects. They understand local customs and recruit “agents” to gather sensitive information. They spread disinformation campaigns that help to ensure national security and win wars. They routinely risk their lives. They don’t rat each other out. They don’t betray their countries. They most certainly don’t brag about their accomplishments.
In the real world, high school dropouts are unlikely to become constitutional scholars or Supreme Court justices who interpret laws.
Hard work, years of sacrifice and dedication are necessary to succeed in the real world. Snowden’s most notable accomplishment was lying about his military service, his experience and education to procure a job with the NSA in the first place.
At some point he is going to have to answer for his crimes and lies that have damaged his country and placed people in danger. When that time comes, Snowden’s make-believe world will come crashing down all around him, and he will finally need to face the same reality in the same challenging world as the rest of us.
Pete Hoekstra represented Michigan for 18 years in Congress as chairman of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee and as a leading bipartisan voice on policy and oversight of national security, education, labor, and economic issues. He currently serves as the Shillman senior fellow at the Investigative Project on Terrorism. For more of Pete Hoekstra's reports, Go Here Now.
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