National Commentary

Johnny’s World: Traitor

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.