By Angelina Newsom:
Since the whirlwind (and very tumultuous) election came to a close, American citizens were left to reflect on the major issues that dominate the media headlines, and one of the most significant topics has been the mishandling of classified materials. For the uninformed, this may not sound as serious as it really is; plenty are unaware of the consequences of even the slightest mistake when entrusted with classified information. Military personnel could explain them all in great detail via life stories, examples, and dissertations in less than a minute. We’ve seen many national security violations in which classified information has not only been “accidentally” mishandled, but handed over to be published online. With the investigation of Hilary Clinton, conviction of Chelsea (Bradley) Manning, and the flight of Edward Snowden, one has to wonder how breakdowns in the handling of classified information has become such a huge problem for those entrusted with our nation’s most important secrets.
Recently, Edward Snowden’s lawyers began the process of attempting to find him asylum within the European Union. Although he has been granted asylum in Russia until 2020, he is likely nervous that President Trump has made clear his desire for open to dialogue with Russian President Vladimir Putin. I find it a little strange that a citizen of the United States of America would continue to claim that he fears prosecution so much that it warrants asylum.
We are not a third-world or developing country. One of the arguments we’ve heard for why Snowden shouldn’t be extradited to the United States to face trial is that our laws and sentences do not match those of the European Union. Mr. Snowden is not, however, a citizen of any country in the European Union, so that seems irrelevant. The fact of the matter is that Edward Snowden knew that he was charged with information that could threaten national security and acted of his own free will.
We as Americans cannot accept mishandling of classified information on any level as the new norm, especially since we have just had a huge shift in leadership. Perhaps that is what Mr. Snowden fears the most. The irony lies in the fact that not only was Hilary Clinton not charged with a crime; Chelsea Manning’s sentence was commuted by former President Obama as he left office.
These are not actions that support the idea that our nation’s security should be a top priority. They also don’t support Snowden’s claim that he feels he will be unfairly persecuted. It is my hope that President Trump will continue to work toward building up the confidence of the American people when it comes to keeping our country’s classified materials safeguarded.
Once and for all, Edward Snowden needs to immediately return to the United States and face the music. Regardless of any information that may have been revealed, the fact of the matter remains—when those with access to privileged information betray the trust of the American people, justice should be swift.
Angelina Newsom is an OpsLens Contributor and U.S. Army Veteran. She served ten years in the military, including a deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. She studies Criminal Justice and is still active within the military community.
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