Is Edward Snowden a false equivalency to Jane Fonda?

Liz Cheney

Can we truly compare Edward Snowden’s act of releasing classified American documents to “Hanoi Jane” Fonda? In response to a possible pardon for “whistleblower” Edward Snowden by President Donald Trump, Wyoming Republican Rep. Liz Cheney said, “Edward Snowden is a traitor. He is responsible for the largest and most damaging release of classified info in U.S. history. He handed over U.S. secrets to Russian and Chinese intelligence putting our troops and our nation at risk. Pardoning him would be unconscionable."
So here’s the question, is Dick Cheney’s daughter being an extremist? I think not. She is right on. BTW – I call her Dick Cheney’s daughter (the former VP under George Bush the II) not from a lack of respect, but because she obviously rode that daddy’s name recognition into victory, but since Wyoming is a conservative state, she might have won anyway even if she called herself Jessabelle de Casper.
Back to the question of false equivalency. Jane Fonda upset millions of Americans, especially veterans, when she sat in an anti-aircraft battery (gun) during the Vietnam War … an obviously traitorous thing to do, considering American men and women were still “in country” fighting the enemy.
What Fonda did was reprehensible and, I believe, an act of betrayal. The photograph of her sitting and smiling while handling an instrument of death used against fellow Americans went worldwide. To this day, Vietnam Vets call her Hanoi Jane and even go so far as to place her likeness in urinals, however gross that may sound. That is how great the level of disgust is with her among these fellow citizens who placed their lives on the line when ordered to do so. For Fonda, it seemed all fun and games akin to a schoolgirl getting a ride in a military plane or having a surprise birthday party. Thanks to Cyndee Lauper we know, girls just wanna have fun … (when appropriate).
Fonda’s was an act of an obvious physical action captured for posterity in a photo, while Snowden’s act was unseen and unphotographed. In reality, Snowden’s actions were far worse than posing for a “bad judgement” photo opportunity as in Fonda’s case.
Of course, the psychological optics of an American movie star yucking it up with the same bunch of folks who shot down heroes like future senator John McCain was a major political “psyche warfare” victory for Ho of the North. We all realize, as sentient adults, that words or actions once uttered or done, can have serious consequences.
I personally felt embarrassed by her and sadness for her father, Henry Fonda, a respectable and patriotic American actor, but sometimes kids rebel just because they haven’t the brains to know what good judgement is.
Back to Snowden. He broke his oath, the one Fonda never took, to stand by Uncle Sam when he was in the CIA and again when he became an NSA (National Security Agency) contractor. He broke both and then ran like a coward. Did he do it for money? Who gives a rat’s petute what his motives were? He did what he did.
Our fellow citizens were placed in harm’s way due to a selfish act masquerading as “whistleblowing.”
The legally protected act of whistleblowing is not the same thing as exposing national secrets, let’s get that straight right off the bat. That’s why I put what Snowden did in quotes. Perhaps your liberal friends (or mine) may think it was a brave and honorable thing that Snowden handed secrets to our Cold War (which never ended) enemies, but think again.
He wasn’t reporting on a failed government program that may have cost taxpayers money. He wasn’t pointing out a few corrupt government officials. Snowden, as in Fonda’s case, was an adult and as such needs to be held responsible for breaching national secrets. Fonda’s irresponsible act seems a bit on the frivolous, naïve and outright ignorant side where Hollywood stars showed little or no empathy to countrymen in a conflict during a controversial war.
Edward Snowden is exactly what Congresswoman Liz Cheney called him: A traitor. If he is repatriated to the U.S., his case meets the criteria for the death penalty. Patriotic Americans should not shed a tear if that comes to pass.
Snowden’s acts of betrayal were without a doubt, far less conspicuous than Fonda’s, but for both overt and covert reasons, his actions pose deadlier consequences.
Young veterans from the “Sandbox” conflicts may not know anything about Hanoi Jane, but please, if you guys ever want to understand your elders better, Google her nickname and make sure you stare at what a photo of treason looks like. Soak it in a while and then think how you would have felt if actors George Clooney or Matt Damon visited the Taliban or ISIS or Sadam Hussein and posed with AK47’s while your butt was in a Humvee that just rolled over an Improvised Explosive Device (IED).
BTW – Have any veterans out there considered not liking the Atlanta Braves? Ted Turner owns that team and the Braves’ First Lady is nonother than … Jane Fonda.

About the author: Gary Bégin is a former Marine Corps Staff Sergeant and spent 22 years in several federal agencies. Bégin is currently the managing editor of NCW Media, owner of four community weeklies as well as the Wenatchee Business Journal. Bégin can be contacted at:

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