Snowden reminds students to question leaders to ensure accountability

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Daniel Horowitz, Views Editor

The Constitution is supposed to grant us basic, inalienable rights to protect us from an abusive government. Sometimes, there is a difficult dilemma the government presents when it believes the public needs to be protected. When these predicaments arise, it is important that we remember that it is okay to criticize our government instead of taking its actions at face value.

Former National Security Agency analyst and whistleblower Edward Snowden reminded Tulane students of this notion at “TUCP Presents: An Evening Edward Snowden” Jan. 30 in McAlister Auditorium. At the event, Snowden recounted his experience as a whistleblower unveiling a global mass surveillance system that the U.S. government had developed. He then discussed his views on the public’s right to privacy and how whistleblowers are treated in the criminal justice system.

Snowden said that he did what he did because he felt it was important to call out the U.S. intelligence community for spying on people without their knowledge. He found it unconstitutional for the government to conduct this surveillance, and he wanted the public to recognize it. He was charged under the Espionage Act and did not return to the U.S. He is currently residing in Russia.

For years, there have been debates about whether or not Snowden did the right thing or if he should be charged with a felony. While individuals could spend hours arguing about this moral dilemma, that is not what Snowden seemed concerned about at Monday’s event. What appeared to matter more to him was how we as citizens examine our government and its actions.

If we are not skeptical of the government, then our leaders will accept the status quo and continue operating as if what they do is acceptable.

Regardless of how you feel about whistleblowers, privacy or our justice system, the notion of questioning our institutions is not limited to one policy area or one political party. It is important to continuously challenge what our leaders do regardless of what side of the aisle you are on.

Questioning the world helps promote positive change. If we accept things as they are, then we do not leave any room for progress.

The idea of questioning our leaders is not limited to the public. Our lawmakers should also be questioning what they and their peers do. If they were to criticize each other, then they would recognize how there is room for change and how they need to be accountable for one another.

There are people who would deem Snowden’s actions as questionable or wrong, but we can still learn from his actions. Accountability is critical in government. If our leaders cannot hold themselves accountable and continuously act questionably, then we cannot and should not be afraid to call them out. A government that is afraid to listen to the people is not a fair or just government.

This is an opinion article and does not reflect the views of The Tulane Hullabaloo. Daniel is a senior at Newcomb-Tulane College. He can be reached at [email protected]