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EDITORIAL: Another Example of Privilege

6/12/2013, 3 p.m.
Many wonder how a 29-year-old employee, who worked for Booz Allen Hamilton, a government contractor, was able to access the ...
Screenshot of Edward Snowden, taken from video by The Guardian (guardian.co.uk)

Edward Snowden has made his way to the front page of every newspaper in the nation. His recent “leak” of top secret information that the National Security Agency has been listening in on phone calls and watching the online activities of average Americans has caused a hailstorm among the media, legislators and the nation’s intelligence agencies, including the FBI and the CIA.

Many wonder how this 29-year-old employee, who worked for Booz Allen Hamilton, a government contractor, was able to access the information he reportedly has shared with The Washington Post and the London-based Guardian newspapers. And what more, pray tell, does he have to share that will potentially damage the nation’s security? These are the questions federal officials are seeking answers to while they scour the planet trying to locate the whereabouts of Mr. Snowden. When they find him, what will they do with him as some lawmakers and whistleblowers suggest that what he has done is not illegal? That, in fact, Americans have a right to know how the government is using their tax dollars to protect them.

In the meantime, back here on the ranch, what seems far-fetched is how a high school dropout, with only a GED, can join the U.S. military and quit before completing his training, later work as a security guard at a local university and finally end up with a $200,000 a year job as a systems administrator responsible for detecting threats to the U.S. government?

Just what made Snowden so exceptional that he would be provided the opportunities to do what most students in high schools like Anacostia and Ballou may never have? Even with a high school diploma they can’t find a decent paying job even if it’s just waving a flag at a local construction site. “They just don’t meet the qualifications,” they’re told. In addition, unless Snowden fell into one of the exceptions, a GED will not get you into the military.

The Snowden controversy is significant and needs vetting, but in places where citizens are increasingly under the government’s microscope with hundreds of cameras observing their every move, it’s no secret that the government is “secretly” watching us every second. And what they see is a community where there is high unemployment, low graduation rates and a dismal outlook for the future.

What galls us even more is the lack of outrage for these conditions. But instead we see yet another example of privilege so starkly thrown in our faces once again.