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Oaths and National Security

June 25, 2013

Edward-SnowdenI wonder about Edward Snowden.  He was a contract security analyst for the National Security Agency.  It appears he broke his oath of loyalty, but I’m not sure what that means.

Millions of us have sworn to keep the nations secrets “freely and without reservation.”  Some of us did it during their military service and some did it as a matter of employment.  Some of us also swore to “support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”  I can imagine situations that put those two oaths in conflict.


nsaHow do you treat the nation’s secrets when the government acts in opposition to the Constitution?  What do you do when whistle blowers receive retribution, instead of the praise they deserve?  What do you do when the immense capability of the national security apparatus is not used to discover foreign enemies, but to punish domestic leaks to the press, leaks that embarrass the administration in power?

In theory there are independent lines of communication to the Inspector General’s office and to Congress so an employee can stop immoral behavior.  That appears to be more theory than fact.  The poor treatment of past whistle blowers is well known.  I know people who tried to expose government abuse and were then ignored by congressmen.  I don’t know what I’d do if my security oath conflicted with my oath to the Constitution.  I hope I never find out.

I don’t know the particular facts in the Snowden case.  I don’t have facts about how moral or immoral the Obama administration acted in its many scandals.  I don’t know if the Inspector General knew about the obvious NSA overreach of domestic spying and was bringing the issue to Congress.  I do know this: honest dealing breeds a culture of honor, and corruption breeds rebellion.  There were failures in depth in the Snowden case.  I expect that government corruption will be found to be a contributing factor.

I’m sure the Obama administration will charge Edward Snowden with leaking government secrets.  I want to know the rest of the story.  Which oath did Snowden uphold and which did he break?


Robert the Oath Keeper

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