The president also hit the nail on the head on head when he called out the canonization of a traitor (Edward Snowden), by pointing out the fact that he and not Edward Snowden had called for a review of the surveillance programs and their transparency - and that Snowden's only contribution to that process was to disrupt it and hurt the actual debate by generating heat rather than light, as well as the fact that it was the president that provided safeguards for whistleblowers within the intelligence community.
If Edward Snowden actually believed himself to be a whistleblower acting in the interest of his country rather than for the political benefit of himself and the global attention whores like Glenn Greenwald, he would have noticed that President Obama has, since taking office, been the strongest advocate for whistleblowers that has ever occupied the oval office. He took pains to stop agency retaliations against whistleblowers. Just a few examples below:
In a No FEAR Act notice on the White House web site, it is made clear that:
An employee with authority to take, direct others to take, recommend or approve any personnel action must not use that authority to take or fail to take, or threaten to take or fail to take, a personnel action against an employee or applicant because of disclosure of information by that individual that is reasonably believed to evidence violations of law, rule or regulation; gross mismanagement; gross waste of funds; an abuse of authority; or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety, unless disclosure of such information is specifically prohibited by law and such information is specifically required by Executive order to be kept secret in the interest of national defense or the conduct of foreign affairs.That isn't the only place this administration has made their strong advocacy for whistleblowers clear. In a 2011 Executive Order about classified information, the President specifically directed his administration to protect whistleblowers.
The entities created and the activities directed by this order shall not seek to deter, detect, or mitigate disclosures of information by Government employees or contractors that are lawful under and protected by the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act of 1998, Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989, Inspector General Act of 1978, or similar statutes, regulations, or policies.And just last year, in a policy directive specifically geared to protect whistleblowers within the intelligence community, the president reiterated that real whistleblowers had nothing to fear from his administration.
This Presidential Policy Directive ensures that employees (1) serving in the Intelligence Community or (2) who are eligible for access to classified information can effectively report waste, fraud, and abuse while protecting classified national security information. It prohibits retaliation against employees for reporting waste, fraud, and abuse.Last year, the president also signed the Whistleblower Protection Act that provided greater protections to whistleblowers and toughened penalties for those who violate whistleblower protections.
The president read Snowden the riot act, and challenged his motives, rightly so:
Mr. Snowden has been charged with three felonies. If in fact he believes what he did was right, like any American citizen he can appear before a court with a lawyer and make his case. “If the concern is that somehow this was the only way to get this information out to the public, before any of this happened, I signed an executive order that provided whistleblower protection to the intelligence community.“Once again, if Snowden were truly concerned about the implications of surveillance programs he had witnessed as an NSA contractor, he would have been protected by law and by this president's executive orders to pursue the matter through internal as well as external channels. He could have gone to his superiors, he could have gone to Congress, and he could have even gone to the press without revealing the blueprint of programs that are entirely legal and privacy protected. He would have been protected in reporting abuse, illegality, misconduct or misuse of funds.
He didn't. Because that is not what Snowden wanted to reveal. He had no interest in the actual policy, or even the actual facts. He - and his foreign media compadres - had a simple goal in mind: to generate sensational headlines, obfuscate the reality, and get people riled up to serve their own sinister and dangerous libertarian agenda by spreading the paranoid myth of a government surveillance tool under every pillow. As the president pointed out, Snowden, Greenwald, et al have actually harmed the process of a proper review of our surveillance, as it sent responsible officials scurrying for a response to set the record straight on their intentional deceptions rather than devising a better system.
But read around the web. All you see are headlines about how Snowden "forced the president's hands," and how President Obama was forced to do this and that. Not a single reputable news organization has reported on the president's unprecedented record of defending true whilstleblowers. Not a single reputable news organization wants to talk about how the leaks have hurt both national security and civil liberties. Stuck in their own bubble, it is as if our media doesn't want to tell you the truth.