Political Hay

Why Is Rand Paul Being Duped by Edward Snowden?

It's time this presidential wannabe cozied up to the idea of national security.

By 6.26.13

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As legend has it, P.T. Barnum said, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” One such minute fifty years ago Randal Howard Paul came into this world.

How else does one explain a U.S. Senator being duped by a high school dropout?

It is difficult to fathom Senator Paul’s admiration for NSA leaker Edward Snowden. In an interview with Sean Hannity on June 17, Paul called Snowden “a civil disobedient” and compared him to Henry David Thoreau and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Six days later, Paul told CNN’s Candy Crowley that Snowden “told the truth in the name of privacy.” It would seem that Paul believes that the motives of the former Booz, Allen & Hamilton employee are purer than the driven Snowden.

But if this was about privacy or civil disobedience, don’t you think Snowden would have faced the music and used a courtroom as a forum to express his views against an unjust law? When I think of countries that value privacy and civil disobedience, China and Russia do not come to mind -- ever. All Paul can say is that there could be trouble for Snowden if he “cozies up” to the Chinese and Russians.

Is Rand Paul really this stupid?

Does Paul honestly believe that Snowden would choose to walk on the soil of two countries hostile to American interests entirely by happenstance? Mind you, these are the two countries most active in launching cyber attacks against both our national intelligence and our personal information. Does Paul honestly believe that either China or Russia would admit Snowden inside their borders without obtaining access to the information he obtained from the NSA? It seems to me that he is already plenty cozy with the Chinese and the Russians no matter how much Vladimir Putin says he’s shocked, shocked to find out Snowden is sipping vodka in the Moscow International Airport lounge.

Now I understand that Paul doesn’t trust our Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. I don’t either. Clapper lost me (and a lot of other people) the moment he called the Muslim Brotherhood “a largely secular organization.” You certainly can’t trust a public official who says he made the “least untruthful” answer he could to Congress. But just because Clapper is untrustworthy doesn’t mean Paul is wise to automatically trust Snowden and take his claims at face value.

If Paul took off his rose colored glasses he might see that Snowden is neither Thoreau nor King, but rather more closely resembles Alger Hiss. With this in mind, could you imagine how different not only the history of conservatism, but the history of this country would have been if William F. Buckley and the conservative movement had backed Hiss over Whittaker Chambers?

Looking to the future, Rand Paul is widely expected to pick up where his father left off and seek the GOP nomination for President in 2016. The eagerness with which Paul has embraced Snowden as someone engaging in an act of civil disobedience ought to give conservatives great pause. It is, of course, entirely reasonable for conservatives to be skeptical of the Obama Administration concerning its approach towards national security when one considers how it has used the federal government apparatus against conservatives and those who have the temerity to disagree with them. While Snowden’s revelations might very well bring the Obama Administration’s excesses to light, these considerations are outweighed by the grievous harm that could come to Americans both at home and abroad, especially if these revelations end up in the hands of a hostile foreign government or a terrorist organization.

The greatest responsibility of the President of the United States is to protect Americans at home and abroad. That the junior Senator from Kentucky is unwilling to recognize the harm that Snowden’s actions could bring indicates that there must be a suspicion that Paul has been duped. If Paul can be duped by a high school dropout (albeit a computer literate high school dropout), then what chance in hell does he stand against Putin and Xi Jinping? There must also be a suspicion that protecting America’s national security secrets would not be a priority for a Paul Administration. If Rand Paul is elected President, we shouldn’t be surprised if we see a lot more Edward Snowdens come out of the woodwork. There could be a Snowden born every minute.

Photo: UPI

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About the Author
Aaron Goldstein writes from Boston, Massachusetts.