A betrayal of America’s trust

Published 5:21 pm Saturday, July 6, 2013

By Kermit Hobbs

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m an old-fashioned person. I had the good fortune of growing up in the 1950s, when you could turn on the radio and hear the likes of Buddy Holly, the Everly Brothers, the Temptations and the Platters.

Back then, the worst thing anybody my age might do was to smoke a cigarette in the boys’ bathroom, and getting caught would result in a three-day suspension from school, if not outright expulsion.


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Sometimes, we’d go to the movies on Saturday night (the Palace Theater was air conditioned) and see a movie with no profanity or dirty jokes, just good fun. I particularly enjoyed the war movies, where I’d see the good guys from my parents’ generation — the one Tom Brokaw called The Greatest Generation — defeating the evil Nazis and Japanese in World War II.

Back then, good was good and bad was bad. The good guys behaved honorably, and the bad guys lied, cheated and stole. That was true not only for the characters on the movie screen; it went for us, too. Each person was responsible for his own actions, and there was no one else to blame if he got caught.

My, how far we’ve come! I could write pages about things happening nowadays I disapprove of. But right now I’m outraged that a guy named Edward Snowden has betrayed his country by deliberately revealing top-secret details about the National Security Agency’s use of telephone data to head off terrorist and other criminal activities.

Snowden worked for National Security Agency and Central Intelligence Agency for some years, where he was trusted to handle top-secret information. He eventually left that job and took a pay cut to join Booz Allen Hamilton, a consulting company for the NSA, where he was able to gather information about the NSA’s surveillance programs.

He later admitted that he had made that move so that he could ultimately reveal the NSA’s secrets to the world.

I know. I know. The government’s use of surveillance through phone records is a debatable topic. Indeed, it’s part of a larger question of balancing personal privacy against national security. The debate over where to draw those lines and how to implement solutions in a rapidly changing world is a tough question, and there are intelligent people of good faith on both sides. But that’s not something we can resolve here.

What enrages me is that an individual, Edward Snowden, betrayed the trust of the United States of America. That means he betrayed me.

He was born and grew up with all the rights, privileges and benefits of being an American citizen. Because of his talents in computer technology, he was entrusted with access to classified information. But that was not enough. He put his personal agenda ahead of his responsibility to those who trusted him.

He lied, cheated and stole, just like the worst of those old movie villains, and in so doing he has done immense harm to America in the eyes of the world.

Edward Snowden deserves no honor or dignity; nor does he deserve my respect. I hope they catch him and put him someplace where he never again sees the light of day.

Kermit Hobbs Jr. is an accomplished Suffolk historian and businessman. Email him at khobbs5@aol.com.