Peter Van Buren

Edward Snowden today made clear both his own bona fides as a whistleblower, and the hypocrisy of the United States in its manhunt for him.

Whistleblower? Snowden’s remarks reinforce the basic tenet of whistleblowing, that is an act of conscience. He made clear what he gave up– home, family, perhaps even his liberty and life– and what we gained, learning what a government which claims to be “of the people” is doing to the people.

Snowden still loves America, if not its government and its intelligence services. He reinforced that idea that one courageous act of conscience might make a difference in a nation gone astray.

Hypocrisy? Of the countries that offered to help Edward Snowden, the U.S. itself has accepted 3,103 of their own asylees, 1,222 from Russia and 1,762 from Venezuela.

The U.S. took those people in without a hint of regard for anyone’s opposition. This is in fact how the asylum system, codified by various UN treaties the U.S. has signed, should work.

The concept of asylum reaches back to the original democracy, Greece, and it is shameful that the United States today, in only this one case, refuses to recognize it as a fundamental right of a free people.

Our Founders, who pledged their own lives, fortunes and sacred honor to such ideals, would weep.

Irony? During the Cold War, the Soviet Union was notorious for refusing to grant dissidents passports, while the U.S. regularly waived such requirements when they escaped to the West.

Indeed, it was only about a year ago that the U.S. gave Chinese dissident Chen Guang Cheng refuge in our own embassy in Beijing before allowing him to enter the United States.

Snowden also touched on the most fundamental of points: that the America he is defending is not limited to physical safety, but extends deeper, to the freedoms from unwarranted search and seizure that define America.