Even before the Manning trial began, the emerging look of a new America was coming into view. In recent years, weapons, tactics, and techniques developed in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as in the war on terror have begun arriving in "the homeland."
Domestic spying, secret laws, secret courts and secret judicial rulings are un-American. They go against everything that every soldier who died "for this country" was fighting for. The public's ability to hold their government accounts is only possible if we know what the government is doing.
If Bradley Manning is guilty of espionage, what does that mean for me? Am I guilty of espionage against Bank of America, QBE, and Assurant? Are all whistleblowers spies? What's the difference between a whistleblower and a spy? What could he have done better?
Journalists who can be compelled to violate the confidentiality of their sources, or otherwise go to prison, are reduced to doing little more than providing stenographic services to pass along the official story. That's what the White House wants.
By the standards of other countries, the U.S. approach to official secrecy is ferocious. For leaking hugely newsworthy information to the press, Snowden could go to prison for life. Elsewhere, punishment for making official secrets public is less severe than the penalties here for driving drunk.
President Obama ran his initial campaign on a pledge for transparency and a promise to enhance whistleblower protection, both of which have been scrapped. Instead, the administration now forwards the narrative that whistleblowers by their very nature are a threat to national security.
No incident has been more revealing than the downing of the plane of Bolivian President Evo Morales. Evidently officials in Washington believed that the plane bringing the Bolivian president back from Moscow was also carrying Snowden.
As a State Department whistleblower, I think a lot about Edward Snowden. I can't help myself. Here are five things that I imagine were on his mind (they would have been on mine) as that plane took off.
Certainly Edward Snowden's crime is one of public relations. What he did by outing the NSA and its gargantuan surveillance operation was mess hugely with the American image -- the American brand -- with its irresistible combination of might and right.
It seems Edward Snowden didn't do his homework on where in the world to apply for asylum. His choice of Ecuador as a safe haven stands in stark contrast to President Rafael Correa's war on the free press and refusal to endure dissent of any kind.
Despite continuing efforts to politicize the revelations about the NSA's domestic spying programs, the leaks from whistleblower Edward Snowden transcend America's trivial two-party politics. This isn't Republicans versus Democrats. It's the government versus the people.