#TotD: Rule of law has been the cornerstone of many of my discussions here on Tyranny of the Day for the simple fact that tyranny is, by definition, a result of its breakdown. Merriam-Webster defines tyranny as the “exercise of power over subjects and others with a rigor not authorized by law or justice.” Thus, if the actions of government are contrary to the established laws and customs, those actions are properly considered as tyrannical and must be opposed.

Throughout history, individuals have attempted to reveal instances of government tyranny. The United States itself was founded as a reaction to the tyrannical actions of the British government under King George III. In American lore, no patriot is more revered than those who were responsible for the founding of the nation. However, from the perspective of Great Britain, these individuals were nothing short of treasonous. This single event is enough to prove the adage, “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.”

Yesterday, American patriot/traitor Edward Snowden sat down for an interview with NBC. In typical fashion, his eloquence and insight was impressive. He astutely stated, “There have been times throughout American history where what is right is not the same as what is legal. Sometimes to do the right thing you have to break the law.” He revealed the wholesale spying program by the NSA which operated in direct contradiction to Constitutional law. From the perspective of rule of law, he was very clearly acting as a patriot. However, most individuals within government circles view him as a traitor.

Secretary of State John Kerry has been adamant that Snowden’s actions were as unpatriotic as they come. “What he’s done is hurt his country. What he’s done is, is expose for terrorists a lot of mechanisms which now affect operational security of those terrorists and make it harder for the United States to break up plots; harder to protect our nation.” No sir, what he’s done is expose the lawlessness of the United States government.

Kerry shares a lot of company in Washington, D.C. with this sentiment. NBC Chief White House Correspondent Chuck Todd identified a lot of anger towards Snowden by every politician and bureaucrat he came in contact with. “The anger at Edward Snowden has to do with, not the theft itself, but the selective leaks that they hate that they believe has undermined America’s standing in the world and the diplomatic standing between, say, America and Germany.” Yes, it’s rather embarrassing when your illegal actions are revealed to the world. Especially when those actions come from the United States, a nation which prides itself in telling other nations how corrupt and inept they are. “Democracy by the point of a gun” seems to be the official mantra. I would be angry too if my hypocrisy was revealed publicly like this.

The bottom line comes back to rule of law. Either the law applies to everyone or it doesn’t. There is no gray area for expediency or “security.” If you believe in the rule of law, you must believe that Snowden’s actions were justified. Otherwise, the actions of the government become no different than those of Great Britain as experienced by the founding generation.