Dear Future President,
As Benjamin Franklin once said, “Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.” This quote was from a time centuries ago yet it still rings true. Although it’s now old news, on May 20th, 2013 Edward Snowden, after flying to Hong Kong, leaked thousands of documents about how the NSA operated. Not only did this lead to his banishment from the US, but it also sparked a debate about how far the government should go in order to keep the American people safe. Ever since then the debate about government surveillance on its allies and even its own citizens has been brought into the limelight at multiple points. Not only did this bring up the issue of government surveillance, there’s a separate debate going on about what should be done about Snowden himself.
According to a poll on isidewith.com, 499,313 Americans, 52%, believed that he should not receive immunity from the US government. Many citizens don’t seek issue with the NSA’s surveillance because statistics show that it does make people safer, according to Sean Sullivan of the Washington Post the NSA prevented 50 cases and “at least 10 of the plots targeted the United States” since the terror attacks on September 11th, 2001. Others may also agree that they don’t want their government snooping around their business but that Snowden should be tried regardless since he broke the Espionage Act twice. There is a flipside to this coin, however. People throughout the globe value him as a true patriot of his nation, claiming that it takes a real patriot to speak up when your government is wrong. He’s won multiple awards such as the Sam Adams Award and the German “Whistleblower Prize” for exposing the monitoring of storage data. Whether you love him or hate him a decision must be reached on what to do with him and other whistleblowers like him. Where does the US stand when it comes to dealing with these people who although technically broke the law are revealing government injustice.
As a citizen of the United States, I ask you as the next president of the US to grant Snowden and other whistleblowers immunity as well as reconsidering spying on your own citizens and our allies across the globe. Even if this surveillance does prevent a terrorist attack from happening, where will the next line be drawn? Is it worth showing your distrust of your allies? Which right will we yield in the name of safety next? I don’t believe this kind of monitoring has any place in a true democratic society, its place is in George Orwell’s 1984. Simply put, this country was built on life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. As the next president of the United States, I expect you to support these ideals and stand up for the personal freedoms that this country was founded on, and that starts with admitting we were wrong and granting Snowden and others like him immunity.
Billy Noel, 10th grader