Johnny’s World: Traitor

July 11, 2013 9:36 AM8 comments

jworldWe’ve all done it. We’ve all come across information that wasn’t meant for our eyes or ears and definitely not held onto secrets we feel are of some use (for entertainment or security purposes).

Just last week at a Rolex counter in Japan, I spotted an exclusive design that is so exclusive that Rolex employees aren’t even supposed to admit to having it, and only show it to people who can afford it or are valued members of the world of celebrity (whether it be tabloid celebrities or rock stars of the tech community).

This watch is a $100,000 secret. Even if you ask for it, they will deny having it in stock. I noticed it only when an employee opened a drawer and I saw its pretty little rainbow-encrusted face strained against a secure see-through travel box. While a house-priced watch is a little rich for my blood, I still wanted to see it. I told everyone I knew in Japan that the watch, indeed, was real. One moment of not hiding the watch in the drawer properly and a whole community knew of its existence. This information was trivial, but it was delicious and beautiful nonetheless.

Last year, I was hooked on the story of Australian WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The whistle blower was wanted worldwide for releasing government secrets and information to the masses. A year later and he is still holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he is seeking asylum, but apparently they can’t get him out of the U.K. without him somehow getting arrested on rape charges of all things. While he may be a despicable man, is there something so bad about the world knowing secrets that could affect us all?

Edward Snowden just a short time ago was trapped, much like Tom Hanks’ character in “Terminal,” in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport transit passenger area. Snowden, like Assange, had released secrets to the world regarding our government, and Snowden must be considered a “traitor.” What he leaked was data concerning American spying techniques using mobile telephones and the Internet. For his traitorous deeds, he is a wanted man in the U.S., and so he sought asylum in Ecuador, Iceland, and Russia among others. Due to his high-profile story, he has been unable to make much of a move. His whereabouts are still unknown, but he is speculated to be still hiding out in Moscow.

These two huge stories really got me wondering about secrets and traitors, and how we as normal people should behave about these situations. I am not a government follower, nor a knowledgeable person on everything that is considered right or wrong in my country, but the question remains: If there were secrets that I felt someone should know considering our well-being, safety, or personal gain, should I tell? Is it not an American right to tell the truth? Is it not an American right to have personal freedoms? Or do these freedoms only go so far?

In the instance of finding Osama bin Laden, I think, as I’m sure many others do, that him knowing he was found and being watched before we would have had a chance to take him would have been an atrocity. Not only would he be on the loose again, he’d be angry. I believe that if someone had blown a whistle on this operation that more Americans or Westerners would have suffered as an aftershock. Had there been a Snowden or an Assange waiting with this information, we could very well have lost our chance to take this monster who had plotted and authorized the deaths of so many Americans. That would have been traitorous.

On the flipside, should we be allowed to know where the nuclear weapons of the world are or that your government’s phones are tapped so that a third party, even an ally, can get information? I think in these cases, a little traitor action could be helpful to us all. I’m not a crazy person who will track down the nukes and use them, but to be a knowledgeable person is to be a somewhat safe person.

While I know that government and industry trade secrets are very different, the questions remains: Do I tell my friend if her husband is cheating on her? Do I tell France if we’re wire tapping them? The jury is still out.

  • MeredithMinerReese

    As having personal experience with one thing mentioned here, YES.. you tell your friend that her husband is a liar and cheater! It will hurt but just as much as finding out on her own, which she will. I wish someone had told this girl quite some time ago had they known. (Vent barely started and ending here)

    • teasingmecrazy

      I once had some friends who told my cheating husband (no, we’re not together anymore) that he needed to tell me or they would. He did. I will be forever grateful to my friends. But they were nervous at the time. If I were a different person, it could have been ugly. It’s a challenging decision when only a handful of people are involved; I imagine it’s even harder when looking at a national or international situation.

  • teasingmecrazy

    As with many things, I’m not sure there’s one right answer that covers every situation. One of my key considerations is motivation. Am I telling (or not) for unfair personal gain or a genuine desire to help?

    • Lady Lisa

      teasingmecrazy- you’re so right, there is no one right answer. Sometimes (as I’ve seen first hand), someone will ‘tell’ under the thinly veiled disguise of just trying to ‘help’ you, when in fact they don’t care at all and they just want to see you hurting, somehow gaining attention and a personal ‘win’, to themselves. Like most things in life, it’s all about judgement (and using it properly!) and knowly what’s important to reveal and what isn’t. One thing I’ve learned (through observation of others), is that some things are better left unsaid, and if you’re not sure, then DON’T say it! You’re right Johnny, a knowledgeable person IS a safer person. And also, knowledge is power, it just takes a lot of skill to use knowledge and power in the right way.

  • Karen Burke

    My biggest issue with Snowden (being the latest case, I will stick with him) is that he signed documents, went through processes to allow him access to sensitive data. He had a security clearance and clauses in his contract that forbade him from such disclosures. I believe, once he became uncomfortable with the information or traffic crossing his desk, he should have addressed it internally. I do know that this would not have likely changed anything. If he still could not continue to work within the bounds of his contract and/or clearance, he should have asked for a transfer or resigned. True, he would have had to sign a non-disclosure statement, but once he was fully a civilian again, he could have gotten the information out through other avenues. I agree that some secrets should not be kept. Some things need to be exposed. Going about things the way he did, hiwever, makes it harder and harder for the legitimate areas of our intelligence community to function.
    And yes, I do think you should tell your friend about the cheating husband. Just do t do it in a way that impacts all of the husbands or couples in their social group. That’s the closest I can get to an analogy at this time of night.

  • cybercitizen

    France has been spying on its allies and a lot of other countries forever, so you can tell France “back at ya.” What Edward Snowden tells us is chilling. There is enough information out there (and enough monitoring electronics and drones out there) that in the wrong hands the US could easily become a police state. You can pick juries based on the information out there and cherry pick the results you want. Bradley Manning was well meaning but naive and did not remove all militarily sensitive information before release–security of troops in Afghanistan was jeopardized. Edward Snowden was much more careful, and I wish him a secure transport and refuge. Regarding the friend’s cheating spouse…it really depends on the individual circumstance. For example, is he cheating in an irresponsible way that will endanger her with contracting diseases? Is this a one-time fling that will not be repeated? Does the couple have children?

  • cybercitizen

    By the way, this is how data collected by the NSA can be misused or abused by corporations to suppress dissent. http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/07/11-3.

  • CloudyTheScribbler

    freedom for bradley manning, edward snowden, julian assange and all the whistleblowers of our time! and it’s time to really “let the sunshine in”, to bring the unspoken underground world that prevents honest democracy from being real to light. and this does NOT advantage terrorists in any way — quite the contrary; letting the sunshine in is the way to be safe AND free

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