Vanunu and Snowden

by JDB

Here is an interesting piece in The Guardian that argues for parallels between Edward Snowden (and Daniel Ellsberg) and Mordechai Vanunu. The article also links to some related, previous pieces.

While it seems to me that disclosing the existence of nuclear weapons facilities is almost certainly morally justified, it’s not obvious to me that the Snowden/Vanunu cases are strictly parallel. There is a clear violation of what many people intuitively take to be their privacy rights in the Snowden disclosures. But it’s not as clear in what way the existence of nuclear weapons facilities violates anyone’s rights per se (especially, say, the rights of the British, to whom the details were initially revealed). That being said, the act of disclosing the existence of nuclear weapons facilities is nevertheless almost certainly morally justified, because human beings should generally be aware of salient threats to their existence, and states that radically elevate those threats should, at the very least, be subject to public scrutiny; this principle is not exclusive to Israel, of course.

Speaking of Israel, however, one might think that another potential consequence of revealing nuclear weapons facilities is that it could make Israelis safer – I wonder, but don’t have enough interest to Google, whether anyone has examined this connection in the Vanunu case.

Strangelove: …Yes, but the… whole point of the doomsday machine… is lost… if you keep it a secret! Why didn’t you tell the world, eh?
DeSadeski: It was to be announced at the Party Congress on Monday. As you know, the Premier loves surprises.

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