James Gilmore, the former Republican governor of Virginia, called on Edward Snowden, the former CIA employee, to come back to the U.S., “face the music” and make his case during a CPAC panel discussion on the NSA’s surveillance activities.
Gilmore contrasted Snowden’s actions with those of Martin Luther King who made an aggressive push for civil liberties, invoked the founding period, antagonized the government and changed history. Snowden is hiding in Mother Russia, which is not exactly a bastion of civil liberties. Moreover, Gilmore points out, he has committed treason against the U.S. as it is legally defined.
“We need oversight,” he said. “But to dismantle our defense at a time of maximum danger is not responsible. The demagoguery is not helpful.”
Gilmore made his point loud and clear and he insists that it’s possible protect civil liberties, observe the Fourth Amendment and at the same time maintain a robust national security structure. We’ve had this debate over the balance between security and liberty going all the way back to the Alien and Sedition Acts.
Gilmore views Snowden as more of traitor and less of a whistleblower. In reality, I think he’s a bit of both. Snowden was actually invited to CPAC, but he’s not here. If you ask my friend and Watchdog.org colleague Eric Boehm, that’s understandable. Here is his comment on Twitter:
“Gov. Gilmore thinks “facing the music” means getting assassinated by a fellow citizen? Is that justice? Wow.”
I think Boehm speaks for most people at CPAC. Unfortunately, MLK did not make it into the Promised Land, but he spoke a powerful truth rooted in long-standing American ideals that benefits all of us. Snowden doesn’t have MLK’s courage; neither do I and neither do most people.