Here’s a new one: Horace Edwards, the former secretary of the Kansas Department of Transportation, has filed a lawsuit against Edward Snowden, Laura Poitras, and others involved with “Citizenfour,” a film about the National Security Agency whistleblower.
The lawsuit seeks to ensure “that ill-gotten gains are disgorged” in an effort to deter “breaches of fiduciary duty, [address] irreparable damage to the safety of the American people and [prevent] dangerous disruption of foreign affairs due to irresponsible conduct of disloyal government operatives and entertainment industry collaborators.”
Edwards defends the suit by saying that it doesn’t infringe on First Amendment rights. Instead, it “seeks relief against those who profiteer by pretending to be journalists and whistleblowers but in effect are evading the law and betraying their country.” (Because revealing unethical, and perhaps illegal, programs is “pretending” to be a journalist.)
If successful, [Edwards’] lawsuit would have a chilling effect on future reporting pertaining to whistleblowers and/or leaked documents. If he somehow manages to prove that Snowden’s breach of contract makes him and his “benefactors” responsible for money spent by the US government’s damage control, this will deter both future reporting and future whistleblowers from making any information public.
Judging by the vitriol shown in the lawsuit, Edwards would probably be just fine with that result. As the Hollywood Reporter notes in its report on the nigh-unbelievable suit:
Edwards is clearly upset by Snowden’s actions, calling them ‘dishonorable and indefensible and not the acts of a legitimate whistleblower,’ as well as by Hollywood for ‘omit[ting] from the storyline’ perceived acts of foreign espionage, and Poitras for doing things like ‘hiding [Snowden] in her hotel room while he changes into light disguise, accepting all of the purloined information to use for her personal benefit financially and professionally, filming Defendant Snowden’s meeting with a lawyer in Hong Kong as he tries to seek asylum…’
Welcome to America, where the former secretary of the Kansas Department of Transportation can file a lawsuit against one of the world’s most wanted men in response to the deep, deep anger he feels about… knowing the government is spying on millions of people around the world. I can’t wait to see how this one turns out.