The degree of pressure on reporters and politicians from the White House and Democratic leadership in the Snowden controversy was in full and embarrassing view yesterday when Rep. John Lewis walked back from an interview that he gave to the Guardian praising Snowden. He appears not to have gotten the memo: Snowden is not to be praised in the media or by members of Congress. Various reporters and new organizations have held the line in mocking Snowden or refusing to call him a “whistleblower” rather than a “leaker.” After all, the fear seems to be that Snowden has to be a traitor or Obama would look like a tyrant.
Lewis is quoted as comparing Snowden to those who engaged in civil disobedience in the the civil rights movement and said that Snowden may have felt that he had to follow a “higher law.” Many of course believe Snowden was defending the Constitution and view him as a hero.
Lewis noted that “[s]ome people say criminality or treason or whatever. He could say he was acting because he was appealing to a higher law. Many of us have some real, real, problems with how the government has been spying on people.” He is quoted as comparing Snowden to figures like Gandhi. However, such views are not supposed to be uttered, particularly by a Democrat.
Lewis seem to be frog marched back before cameras within 24 hours and denied everything short of his name, rank, and serial number: “News reports about my interview with The Guardian are misleading, and they do not reflect my complete opinion. Let me be clear. I do not agree with what Mr. Snowden did. He has damaged American international relations and compromised our national security. He leaked classified information and may have jeopardized human lives. That must be condemned.”
Whew, that was close. Snowden is back being a traitor and Lewis is back on script.
By the way, as some of our commentators have noted, Happy Whistleblower Day. While the Senate passed the resolution below, I expect that they view the day as referring to a dog whistle that only they can hear:
By a unanimous resolution the U.S. Senate declared July 30, 2013 as “National Whistleblower Appreciation Day.” The National Whistleblowers Center strongly supports the Senate’s historic action and calls on every American reflect upon the tremendous contributions whistleblowers have made to American democracy, as well as the struggles and sacrifices they have endured By a unanimous resolution the U.S. Senate declared July 30, 2013 as “National Whistleblower Appreciation Day.” The National Whistleblowers Center strongly supports the Senate’s historic action and calls on every American reflect upon the tremendous contributions whistleblowers have made to American democracy, as well as the struggles and sacrifices they have endured.