Classified Means Duty
The latest utterance from former Attorney General Eric Holder just demonstrates that this administration really doesn't have a clue, or worse, any respect for the sanctity of classified information.
Holder, speaking of Edward Snowden, characterized Snowden as performing a "public service" in stoking a debate about secret domestic surveillance programs. These remarks, combined with the blatant disregard of security protocol by Hillary Clinton in using a private server, after she signed documents explaining clearly that this was prohibited, point to careless disregard by this administration of the foundations of national security.
A person who gets access to sensitive information does not get to decide how to store it, and whether or not it can be disclosed to "right" what they deem is a wrongful intelligence program. You are bound by law to maintain the security of these documents. The disclosure of sensitive information or the placing of secret information that can be "hackable" in a private server can cause irreparable harm to our global intelligence interests and can mean that lives are lost.
Snowden didn't just disclose information about these programs. He stole thousands of classified documents and leaked them to journalists. This is a violation of the espionage act, a law which ahs been validated through the Supreme Court as not violating free speech. As a security contractor he had no right to take this information and disseminate it. In doing so he has weakened our government's national defense.
Holder's remarks are particularly disturbing as they mitigate the grievous offense committed by Snowden and could encourage others to violate the sanctity of classified information as they see fit. But we shouldn't be surprised. Holder has been shown to be a clear incompetent and apologist against applying the fundamental rule of law, from Ferguson, to the Fast and Furious scandal to his proposed handling of the terrorists. He has shown a lack of simple common sense and a rush to judgment against law enforcement. The fact that as Attorney General he is the only cabinet ember in history to be held in contempt of Congress demonstrates his obvious contempt for the law. For him to be placed by President Obama as the highest law enforcement officer in the country says volumes about the fundamental perspective of this administration regarding law enforcement.
In the military I was assigned to Military Intelligence. Access to classified information was not a casual matter. I clearly learned the importance of the various classifications and the penalties for disclosure, and for failing to properly secure the information. After my tour of Vietnam, I was assigned to Fort Bragg, to an intelligence unit, and at one point a friend and I were assigned to a project that after a few days we were uncomfortable doing. Did we steal all the information and run crying to the press, holding the information ransom against our prosecution?
No, we went to our Commanding Officer, and explained our position. It was a risk but we did it. He listened and rightfully told us we didn't have to work on that project and he would replace us. If he had ordered us back on the project we would have done our duty. We voiced our concerns through the chain of command and were relieved of the responsibility to continue on the project. Never for an instant did we think of unauthorized disclosure of the information. We were not the arbiters of whether or not the information should be released. Our positions as non-commissioned officers, just as Snowden, in his position as a security contractor didn't give us the global perspective of why the program was initiated and didn't give us the right to decide if the information should be released.
Another aspect of Holder's reckless remarks is the fact that Snowden fled with the information, to a country led by a dictatorial adversary, who granted him asylum and who literally thumbed his nose at this administration which apparently has made no forceful demand to get him back. This lack of resolve empowers Putin to keep pushing the envelope as to how much he can get away with. The recent "buzzing" of our military warships and confrontational maneuvers around our fighters serve to reinforce the notion that this administration is a pushover, unwilling to draw lines in the sand. This, attitude, in my mind emboldened Putin's plain and clear assault of the Ukraine leading to thousands of deaths of an independent sovereign nation.
Snowden is a criminal, who has committed grave offenses against this country. He needs to be taken into American custody and tried and if found guilty he needs to be sentenced to what is required by the law--many decades in a Federal prison. He doesn't get "points" for why he released the information.