Edward Snowden defends freedom better than Peter King

Congressman Peter King is not just a disgrace to the Republican Party, inasmuch as “safety first” politicians like him are a bipartisan disgrace to America.
As a member of the House Homeland Security Committee and Chairman of the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, King is a reliable and ubiquitous proponent of whatever the federal government wishes to do with your personal information, private communications, or your body, no matter how obscene, in the name of winning the infinitely elastic War on Terror.

Often combining spittle-flecked indignation with breathtaking ignorance, King pops up on cable news whenever the indefensible needs defending, or to impugn those who dissent from his view that there is nothing untoward in the mass surveillance of supposedly free citizens by their government.

Most recently, King blew a gasket on Fox News over a New York Times editorial suggesting clemency for Edward Snowden (this column called for his pardon last year).

Snowden, of course, is the former National Security Agency contractor who revealed the government’s massive surveillance program to the world, and is hiding out in Russia for his trouble.

Now, I have no use for the New York Times and, even if I owned a parrot, I like to think my affection for the bird would be sufficient to find something of higher caliber for its cage.

That said, it is eminently possible to disdain the Times while simultaneously observing that Peter King is almost always dead wrong.

His calculus is that no matter how excessive and intrusive security protocols are, or how omniscient the NSA becomes, it’s worth it to stay safe and defend freedom.

Travel through a US airport, or a land border crossing, or one of the security “checkpoints” cropping up, and ask yourself if this is a free country. If it all seems tickety-boo, Rep. King’s PAC would be delighted to hear from you.

As to Snowden, it is disquieting to see politicians attempt to burnish their anti-terror street cred by grasping for new ways to call him a traitor. It is a malign irony that they do this while enjoying the perquisites of Congress and collecting government paychecks, even as they labor to make the “Land of the Free” less so.

It is truly appalling for people who lead cosseted lives, neglecting their sworn duty to defend the US Constitution, to sneer at those who defend it for free, or at great personal cost.

Case in point: Edward Snowden has done more to protect Americans’ freedom than Peter King.

Yet King will never be without a home, a salary or a pension, he will never miss a meal or fear for his life.  For the rest of his days, he will be comfortable and free to advocate the circumscription of his countrymen’s liberty.