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Letters: Jury is still out on Edward Snowden

June 12, 2013
  • Edward Snowden identified himself as the source for news stories on the National Security Agency.
Edward Snowden identified himself as the source for news stories on the… (Glenn Greenwald/Laura…)

Re "Hero or criminal?," Editorial, June 11, and "Analyst admits to cyber-spying leaks," June 10

Senate Intelligence Committee head Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) has called Edward J. Snowden's admitted leaking of the National Security Agency's extensive surveillance of Americans an act of treason. That is totally wrong.

Snowden is a patriot of the highest order; he did not commit an act of treason. Feinstein is the one guilty of treason for allowing all the spying and not blowing the whistle herself when she had knowledge of this activity. Where does she get the idea that the government may spy on an ordinary U.S. citizen?

And the last time I looked, an accusation of treason is to be tried in a court of law and not determined by a politician. Feinstein's comments are an embarrassment.

Robert P. Khoury

Los Angeles

A phone number is just that: a number. A computer by itself can create a table of all such possible numbers from known area codes.

But for the NSA to do its detective work, it needs actual call dates, the numbers called and other information. The initial analysis doesn't need names or other such content.

Connecting the dots, we would probably find that a lot of calls involve numbers already published.

Snowden should have taken his information to the relevant congressional oversight committees first. Daniel Ellsberg, the Pentagon Papers leaker, allowed himself to be prosecuted; by contrast, Snowden fled to Hong Kong before allowing his name to be revealed. Ellsberg gave the Pentagon papers to U.S. senators first and foremost. He didn't go running to the media while barricading himself in a Hong Kong hotel.

Snowden is no hero. And I want to ask: Why does data access by some private cellphone provider's staff leave us with a more acceptable sense of privacy?

Randy Bednorz

Riverside

Here's one of the published summaries of George Orwell's "1984":

"The Party has taken early 20th century totalitarianism to new depths, with each person subjected to 24-hour surveillance, where people's very thoughts are controlled to ensure purity of the oligarchical system in place. Figurehead of the system is the omnipresent and omnipotent Big Brother."

It should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with Orwell's warning that the U.S. government has utilized technology to gather information in the name of national security and to be proactive against terrorism. Do we feel more secure? Or is this a threat to privacy?

Big Brother is not going to go away as long as our government is omnipresent and omnipotent. That's what's scary — not the revelation but the fact that our government has the power and the means to gather and mine data without boundaries and control.

Lenore Navarro Dowling

Los Angeles

Re "Stay calm and let the NSA carry on," Opinion, June 9

To Max Boot, the NSA's sweeping collection of metadata on every American's telephone calls in the U.S. and its accessing of the emails, videos and other data connected to foreign users found on the servers of major Internet firms (the "PRISM" project) are a mere "kerfuffle." He defends both programs "to keep us safe from terrorist attackers."

Boot assures us that the NSA is not listening to the content of our phone calls and that PRISM is limited to "non-U.S. persons." In truth, by monitoring and archiving the date, time, length and phone numbers of all our calls, the NSA is engaging in an unprecedented invasion of privacy. And in March alone, PRISM collected about

97 billion pieces of data, roughly 3 billion of which came from within the U.S., forcing the NSA to admit the "incidental" collection of actual content from Americans.

At the Constitutional Convention in 1787, James Madison warned that the "means of defense against foreign danger have been always the instruments of tyranny at home."

Stephen Rohde

Los Angeles

The writer, a constitutional attorney, is head of the ACLU Foundation of Southern California.

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