Edward Snowden And The Obama Agenda

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As the world was first introduced to Edward Snowden, the 29-year-old former NSA contractor and source of the biggest intelligence leak in NSA history, Glenn Beck tweeted, “I think I have just read about the man for which I have waited. Earmarks of a real hero.”

Daniel Ellsberg, who famously released the Pentagon Papers in 1971, also called Snowden a hero in an op-ed for the Guardian. He told CNN that he had been waiting decades for someone like Snowden to come along: “Decades in a sense that of seeing somebody who really was prepared to risk his life for his country as a civilian. To show the kind of courage that we expect of people on the battlefield.”

Praise for Snowden has come from both sides of the aisle. But it is my belief that those who are supportive of Snowden’s actions fail to understand what he has done. His actions cannot be called anything but traitorous.

As House Speaker John Boehner argued on ABC’s Good Morning America, “[Snowden’s] a traitor. The disclosure of this information puts America at risk. It shows our adversaries what our capabilities are. And it’s a giant violation of the law.”

To be sure, while Snowden may well have committed a crime, this doesn’t get the administration off the hook for overreaching and hypocrisy; that mustn’t be ignored. But we are now facing a whole host of other issues.

Just as with Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks, our national security has been compromised by Snowden’s leak. Moreover, as the FBI continues to investigate the possibility that Snowden was not working alone, we could face further setbacks.

But while our national security remains the most pressing issue, Obama’s agenda – both foreign and domestic – is serious cause for concern as well.

As I argued on my show, Political Insiders, over the weekend, this is an administration and a president that are in crisis. Snowden’s leak has exposed Obama’s claim to running the “most transparent administration in history” as a lie. And his decision to extend Bush’s policies has infuriated many of his supporters, especially after two campaigns wherein he defined himself as the anti-George Bush.

The President’s domestic agenda has been all but obliterated by these revelations. “Dead in the water” is the best description I can come up with.

Troubles at home have exposed serious failings abroad. Obama has shown himself to be more aggressive about domestic oversight than about advancing US interests around the world.

Yesterday, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin hinted that Russia may grant political asylum for Snowden. “’We will take action based on what actually happens. If we receive such a request, it will be considered,” he said.

This is all coming fresh off Putin’s geopolitical victory vis-à-vis Syria, wherein his foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, committed to organizing Syrian peace talks while at the same time sending S-300 missiles in order to “fulfill their long standing contracts” and to help Syria protect itself from air attack. It was a clear slap in America’s face.

And the much-hyped “shirt-sleeves summit” between Chinese President Xi and Obama last weekend seems to have skirted the most pressing issue at hand: cyber security. While I am pleased to see (potential) progress on a nuclear North Korea and climate change, it is obvious that Obama was not as tough with Xi as he said he would be. The result: we are still in grave danger of a state-sponsored cyber-attack.

Against this backdrop, upside is that Snowden’s leak may have taken some of the heat off of the IRS scandal. But that’s about all the good news there is for the Obama administration in this mess.

I keep coming back to the word “crisis” to describe the situation, but it’s actually beyond a crisis. We may very well be facing the undoing of the Obama administration.

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