Andrew Bolt and Edward Snowden

I while back I sent this email to Andrew Bolt regarding his stance on Edward Snowden. I have edited it to look better as a blog post.


Dear Mr Bolt,

Firstly, I would like to say that I am a daily reader of your blog and ordinarily, I would agree with the vast bulk of what you have said in the past.

However, I have to take strong issue with your stance on Edward Snowden, as I think conservatives should welcome the documents he has released for exposing the attempts by Big Government to invade every aspect of our lives and to lie to our faces about it. Conservatives rightly make a big deal about the overreach of government and the Snowdon documents have exposed the US Government of unconstitutionally issuing general warrants, something the Fourth Amendment was specifically written to forbid. As Judge Andrew Napolitano said:

General warrants do not state the name of the place to be searched or the person or thing to be seized, and they do not have the necessity of individualized probable cause as their linchpin. They simply authorize the bearer to search wherever he wishes for whatever he wants.

General warrants were universally condemned by colonial leaders across the ideological spectrum — from those as radical as Sam Adams to those as establishment as George Washington, and from those as individualistic as Thomas Jefferson to those as big-government as Alexander Hamilton. We know from the literature of the times that the whole purpose of the Fourth Amendment — with its requirements of individualized probable cause and specifically identifying the target — is to prohibit general warrants.

And yet, the FISA court has been issuing general warrants and the NSA executing them since at least 2004.”

Not only that but the Snowdon documents have also exposed senior government officials blatantly lying to Congress, something I would have thought should deeply worry conservatives, being aware of the abuse that comes from unaccountable power. James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, ruled out the mass collection of data by the government while given sworn testimony to Congress and the only reason we know he was lying was because the Snowdon documents came out shortly after and exposed what he said as a lie. As reported at Breitbart:

When the James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, was asked under oath at a Senate Intelligence Committee meeting in March of this year: “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?, he answered “No, sir.”  Astonished by the response, Oregon Democrat Senator Ron Wyden sought clarification: “It does not?” Clapper replied: “Not wittingly. There are cases where they could, inadvertently perhaps, collect–but not wittingly.” Yet documents recently leaked by former NSA analyst and America’s number one fugitive, Edward Snowden, demonstrate Clapper likely gave false testimony to Congress. Clapper has since admitted he testified in the “least untruthful manner’ he could think of” and he was “too cute by half.”

On the issue of Snowdon seeking refuge in Russia, you approvingly quote someone who (presumably sarcastically) refers to Obama as oppressive but in reality, we should both be able to agree that the Obama administration has ruthlessly attacked its enemies. Daniel Ellsberg, leaker of the Pentagon Papers, said that Snowdon made the right call by fleeing because of the ruthlessness of the US government:

“Yet when I surrendered to arrest in Boston, having given out my last copies of the papers the night before, I was released on personal recognizance bond the same day. Later, when my charges were increased from the original three counts to 12, carrying a possible 115-year sentence, my bond was increased to $50,000. But for the whole two years I was under indictment, I was free to speak to the media and at rallies and public lectures. I was, after all, part of a movement against an ongoing war. Helping to end that war was my preeminent concern. I couldn’t have done that abroad, and leaving the country never entered my mind.

There is no chance that experience could be reproduced today, let alone that a trial could be terminated by the revelation of White House actions against a defendant that were clearly criminal in Richard Nixon’s era — and figured in his resignation in the face of impeachment — but are today all regarded as legal (including an attempt to “incapacitate me totally”).”

Conservatives have rightly condemned such government projects as Obamacare or the NBN as government overreach but I think it is foolish to dismiss the very important work that Edward Snowdon has done in exposing the unconstitutional and extensive spying that the US government has committed on everyone. I would hope that you might see the importance of the Snowdon leaks in a different light.

Yours sincerely,

Lee Herridge
Busselton, WA


Andrew replied, saying: “I see nothing gained in the release of our spying secrets. Only much damaged.”

I followed by saying: “You don’t think it is worth knowing that the US is engaging in massive unconstitutional spying on its own citizens and on everyone else? Sure, it’s embarrassing to the Abbott government that it was revealed that Australia tapped SBY’s phones 5 years ago but I wouldn’t call it a massive blow to Australia’s security.”

Despite my differing view, kudos to Andrew for replying – I’m sure he gets a million emails a day, and lots that are angry so to get a reply was nice.

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