Shamai Leibowitz, one of the first victims in Barack Obama’s war on whistleblowers, writes: The Snowden saga is a great teaching moment for the Obama administration. It is now reaping the fruit of its vindictive behavior.
Even in a democracy certain information needs to remain secret, and those with access to that information must honor their obligation to safeguard it. But Snowden and other whistleblowers have not leaked secrets for their own benefit or enrichment; rather, they sacrificed the comfort of their lives to expose lies, fraud, human rights abuses, and unconstitutionality.
As Martin Luther King pointed out, we should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was “legal” and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was “illegal”. Of course, the abuses revealed by Snowden are a far cry from the atrocities of the Nazis, but the principle, nevertheless, is the same: obedience to the law should not be absolute. Technically, we whistleblowers broke the law, but we felt, as many have felt before, that the obligation to our consciences and basic human rights is stronger than our obligation to obey the law.