Cartoon: By Steve Kelly
Legislators tend to confuse public interest with their own interest. Likewise, they tend to confuse national security with their desire to conceal their own activities from the public.
This appears to be the case with the information released by whistle blower Edward Snowden. The NSA under government directive have been secretly monitoring most of the communications in America and many others across the world.
The statements of John Boehner and Dianne Feinstein, that Snowden is a traitor, or that the release of this information is treason are questionable at best.
It is reasonable to argue that in the interests of preventing terrorist attacks, communications from those likely to plan or carry out such actions can be monitored. Such people are probably aware or at least suspect that they may be under survalience and are probably taking countermeasures anyway. Releasing information on survalence of these groups can endanger the public.
The problem in this case is though, this is not targeted survalence but a blanket coverage of vast swathes of domestic and overseas communication using the pretext of terrorism as cover. This is a gross violation of the rights of all law abiding citizens whose phone records and internet commumications are recorded.
Revealing countermeasures taken against the enemies of the American people is treason, but when the state uses this as a pretext for wholesale spying on the population at large, not just the dangerous people, such revelations are whistle blowing.
The Obama Administration is dangerously inclined to think it rules by divine right, and dangerously contemptuous of Constitutional limitations to its power, to the point of considering itself imperial. The idea that such information gathering would not be misused is negated by the misuse of the powers of the IRS in the targeting of political opponents.
The only treason Boehner and Feinstein can argue, is against their belief in the unrestrained rights of big government.