Snowden ‘shamefully betrayed’ USA: Bishop



in brief Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has heavily criticised NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden during a visit to the United States. The Liberal MP’s full speech is not yet online, but the ABC reports (we recommend you click here for the full article) that Bishop told the Alliance 21 conference in a keynote address:

“[Snowden] continues to shamefully betray his nation while skulking in Russia. This represents unprecedented treachery. He is no hero. I am surprised that any responsible entity or organisation or people could label him as some kind of hero.”

The comments represent only the latest time that a senior Australian politician has heavily criticised Snowden. In December, Federal Attorney-General George Brandis reacted to the revelation of what a Queen’s Counsel lawyer stated were borderline illegal surveillance tactics by the Australian Signals Directorate by supporting the agency and accusing NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden of being an “American traitor”.

And in August last year, then-Labor Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus made the public statement that Snowden and accused WikiLeaks collaborator Bradley Manning were not technically “whistleblowers”, claiming that the information they had released publicly related to no wrongdoing by government agencies.

However, globally, Snowden’s revelations about the electronic surveillance activities of the US National Security Agency have been welcomed by many. Most Western countries have set up inquiries into the extent of NSA spying on their citizens. In Australia, the Greens in December successfully moved a motion in the Senate to establish a formal inquiry into Internet surveillance, through a review that will take place into the controversial Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act.

In addition, following the ongoing Snowden revelations, US President Barack Obama last week called for ending the government’s control of phone data from hundreds of millions of Americans and immediately ordered intelligence agencies to get a secretive court’s permission before accessing such records.

Snowden shot to international fame in May 2013, after the NSA contractor collaborated with newspapers such as The Guardian to reveal a series of controversial US spy programs operated by agencies such as the National Security Agency, including direct access to data held by US technology giants such as Apple, Microsoft and Google . The US Government has charged Snowden with espionage and theft of government property, but much of the international community, and even respected US politicians such as former President Jimmy Carter, have applauded his actions as both patriotic and also serving humanity. In addition, a number of legal challenges have already been mounted to the legitimacy of the spying programs in the US.

Image credit: Screenshot of the film Prism by Praxis Films, believed to be OK to use under fair use


  1. *turns to Julie Bishop for a moment* Baaaaaa, Baaaaaaaaaaaa……

    I wonder how it feels to have the US as your masters.

    I applaud Snowden for what he did, secrets like that should never be allowed to stay secret. Since it came to light, even the US government tightened the noose a little bit on the NSA.

  2. The US Constitution is the foundation of that nation in a very real way – this old document not only has a role in law, but it is a genuine part of their national psyche.

    Here’s what I find curious with respect to the Snowden debate.

    What made the US constitution stand out from all others at its time of drafting was that as a document it’s primary purpose was not to empower its government.

    Instead, its purpose was to place LIMITS on the power of its government. It was a document that specifically laid out rights and liberties of its citizens that were not to be breached.

    Given that unusual slant to their founding document, and Snowden’s whistleblowing, it could be argued that his attempts to expose government actions that might be in breach of either the intent or the letter of their Constitution might be the acts of a patriot, not a traitor.

    And further, that any attempt to stifle or marginalise him might be in discord with the intent of their Constitution.

    Goes to show that any political figure really needs to take care before introducing terms like ‘treachery’ – it begs the question of who the real traitors are.

    IMHO, of course. I personally think that if a government is doing something that they want to keep secret, they ought to seriously think about not doing it in the first place. As a guideline.

    As part of their pre-atrocity cost-benefit analysis they ought to pretend that they are justifying their secret-keeping to a jury empowered to imprison them for their deeds. Because it might end up being true.

    • Something everyone seems to be overlooking here is that for Snowden to join the NSA he had to sign an oath, He has broken that oath and that is a very serious offence in itself!
      Also to put this in perspective, In say times of war like the last one WW2 people who did this kind of thing were quietly taken out the back and shot! We only won because we had better intelligence than they did! In times of war it all boils down to who’s side you are on them or us and we are at war now with terrorism, If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to worry about!
      Having said all that i do agree that we need to have better checks in place though, but there are better ways of going about this than betraying your own (& other) countries

      • When the NSA oversteps its boundaries and breaks the law of the country, what is he supposed to do?
        He believes that the current actions of those in power were illegal and in opposition to the best interests of his country. So to say that he broke his oath is an oversimplification because from his viiewpoint it is unlikely that he believes this
        Have a read of this for a detailed argument:

      • Since when is spying on the entire planet and keeping it a secret from the public acceptable?

        It’s not.

        Therefore, what snowden did was the right thing, and now the US must pay for it, which they fucking well deserve after bullying other countries into doing things their way for so long, e.g they threatened sanctions and military action against any country that would not adopt their flawed fractional banking practices, including the very flaws that were the seeds of the GFC.

        The ends served the means, what he did was certainly wrong from a legal standpoint, but since when has the law been fair to individual citizens who feel it is their duty to uncover illegal activity? every single time without fail the governments punish these people in some way, nothing ever changes because it’s how they keep their power.

        • I’m not sure there was ‘a better way of doing this’. Snowden obviously felt compelled to take action and obviously felt that there was no official channel which would be effective.

          Did he break an oath? He presumably broke something be it an NDA, oath or something similar.

          Did he do it to undermine his country and to aid foreign interests? I would suspect not and think that ascribing that motive to him is being somewhat unfair.

          For what its worth, I (choose to) believe that Snowden acted in a considered way and placed what he believed to be the good of the nation as a whole above the good of those in power and any documents he likely signed. Given the support that he has received from large parts of the American population it seems I’m not the only one who credits Snowden with an altruistic motive. It seems they believe Snowden was with them.

          I note also that Snowden’s decision came at significant personal cost to himself.

          I’m interested in which other avenues you believe Snowden could have followed?

  3. Your headline… It’s spelled correctly everywhere else.

    Otherwise, an extreme authoritarian of questionable sanity makes unsubstantiated and baseless accusations against a man who shows real patriotism, that is to his fellow country people.

    Nobody is surprised that they mouth these lies anymore.

    The saddest bit is that a large number of people in this country voted for her and her ilk.

  4. “Why in my day, they would have dragged him, in chains, up to a wall and shot the blighter!”

    I’m really surprised Bishop didn’t complete the sentence she was quite clearly thinking. The truly depressing revelation, is that that sort of comment, would have barely rated a mention in the current news cycle.

    I am appalled (and just a little embarrassed) for that which passes as ‘leadership’ within current Australian Politics.

    • Remember the gang of 4, Abbott, Hockey, Bishop and Pyne.
      One Nation was cutting into the LNP voter base mainly in Qld, but increasingly Nationwide.

      The gang of 4 with the inferred support of the rest of the party collected $10,000 from supporters to pay for false witness against the founder and head of the party, Tony Abbot reportedly being the bagman.

      The intention was the destruction of an elected political party in a supposed democracy.

      Yes a class act

  5. Once again, Australia kow-tows to a US govt hardline stance, on what is otherwise widely acknowledged to be a whistle-blowing role on an Orwellian government spying scandal.

    When is Australia going to grow up and assert some kind of independent moral role in the world? Clearly, not under the current govt’s ridiculously schoolboyish approach to foreign affairs.

  6. What if Snowdon was Chinese or North Korean and revealed the same information about those countries surveillance programs. Would Bishop be saying he shamefully betrayed his country?

  7. Julie should take some time out to watch SBS’s Persons of interest. Many of the people ASIO spied on have had valuable careers serving the country in senior positions. Including a judge of the High Court. And some of the people doing the spying where duped themselves and have had to live with the consequences.

    Constant surveillance of the spooks is required and sadly we can’t rely on their official masters to do it.

  8. “He hides in Russia”. Well JB, he can’t return to the US as they canceled his passport. Whoops.

  9. At least nobody can say that Julie Bishop isn’t in the Government on merit.

    Nope, she’s every bit as stupid and bigoted as her male colleagues!

  10. Well she would say that, wouldn’t she, she’s never been the brightest globe in the coalition chandelier, marginally less stupid than Truss and his sheep dippers, probably a trifle brighter than Tony, but that’s not saying much, but not really up there with the really nasty curs hiding in the dark orifices of the Liberal’s factional cesspits. Just running with the fatboy yankee administration dogs re the whistleblowers, without having the faintest idea what it’s really all about, this latest spray of ignorance is a companion piece to Abbott lecturing the yanks about their economic behaviour today, that should go down a treat at the G20, can’t wait for Obama to give him the Bush/Rudd treatment…

  11. The only difference between a patriot and a traitor, is one got caught, the other didn’t. The US at some point in the coming decades is heading towards civil war, but it hasn’t spiraled that far down the toilet …. YET.

  12. There is a 3rd aspect to the patriot vs traitor argument. What he did was effectively steal from his employer. That much is a reality and if it had been a car or copyrighted material he would be done through a court with none raising any objection. The theft is obscured but the items stolen – anyone who hates the US et al will call it a patriotic act. Those not in that group MAY call him a traitor. But underlying this is he is definitely a thief and clearly not trustworthy.

    • No he is not a “Traitor” because that is a legally clear term. You may say that he betrayed his country however.
      Yes he stole, but for the purpose of exposure after he found CRIMINAL activity being perpetrated by his government. So you could argue that if he didnt do what he did then he would be an accessory to those activities.

      • I reckon the theft aspect is actually at the core of why such emotive words like ‘traitor’ are being thrown around.

        The Government, American in this case, has had material stolen and is using every mechanism within it’s power to marginalise Snowden and reduce the risk of it happening again.

        I also think this is at least part of the reason why Bishop is lining up behind the US. Sure it helps with the relationship between the Australian government and the Americans, but it also sends a message to the Australian people at large that the our government doesn’t like having our dirty laundry exposed.

        This is all despite the Americans acting on the material Snowden published to trigger reviews and provide greater transparency to the rest of their population.

        It seems to me there is a deal of hypocrisy in the US governments actions and by labeling Snowden a traitor Bishop hurts her own credibility more than Snowden’s.

  13. If you are speaking publicly, you should severely restrict your use of adjectives. Adjectives such as traitorous, cowardly, shameful are the hallmark of despotic rulers or those that aspire to be.

  14. There are 2 sides to this.

    Yes he is a traitor in a sense. But he is also a Patriot in a sense.

    What he did was illegal, but what he revealed was that his government was also performing illegal acts, and using its power to hide this from its people.

    Should he be punished, yes. Should the US government staff responsible for the illegal actions also be punished, yes.

    Should he receive leniency for revealing what could only be revealed from the inside. Yes I believe he should.

    If a system is being corrupted from within, the only way to identify it is to have someone within, or to force someone without onto them.

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