When history comes to look at the acts of Edward Snowden, and is able to look dispassionately at the results of his activities, will Snowden be acclaimed as a true hero, with his scattergun broadcasting of NSA secured files and activities as a necessary act to preserve his Nation’s privacy and deter an overweening and autocratic Security bureaucracy, or will he be reviled as a traitor of the worst kind, only secure in his own delusions?
I have my own opinions of that seemingly earnest but arrogant young man, but should we not examine the alternatives available to him had he not stolen the files, sent himself on a trip through Hong Kong and ending up given asylum in what is really his own Country’s worst enemy, Russia? Once he had determined to extent, the true scope of the NSA’s drive to accumulate both data and metadata by literally trawling through both ISP and Telecom hard- and soft-ware, through illegal taps on fibre-optic hub connectors and by intercommunication with Britain’s GCHQ, how was he to proceed without sacrificing his own personal liberty in the process? Should he have approached his own supervisors or ranking managers within the organisation which controls all of his Nation’s spy satellites and observation arrays? Highly unlikely, as his own security clearance would have disappeared within seconds, and he would most likely have disappeared as well; probably dressed in an orange jump suit on a one-way ticket to ‘Gitmo’.
Should he have approached a newspaper or a journalist, as was told in the Watergate saga, with the ‘Deep Throat’ advice guiding Woodward and Bernstein along that dangerous path which brought down a President? Again, unlikely; as today’s American mainstream media gives Obama, along with his whole Administration, a very easy ride, with mistakes either papered over or sidetracked. We read today of an episode in America’s past, when a set of ordinary people decided to do what Snowden did, and expose, to the public’s gaze, the illegal efforts of the FBI’s top man, J. Edgar Hoover, to surveil and chart the very movements of black students and activists because they were black, and therefore suspect. The Washington Post’s Betty Medsger charts the progress of these ordinary people who decided to break the law because they were disturbed at the lack of ‘due process’ by the people who were supposed to uphold the Law, as well as that same ‘due process’. The article makes for fascinating reading, as it gives an insight into the minds of the law-breakers, as well as the person who wrote the exposure articles.
Snowden, a young man faced with an appalling dilemma; should he remain silent in the face of huge violations of what he thought his Nation stood for, or should he break silence, and in doing so harm his Nation’s capabilities to detect and deter terrorist plans an actions?
Got to admit, in my own mind; if he has been careful to protect identities, he may have had a point. If he has been cavalier with people’s lives, however; he deserves to rot in a deep, dark cell for a very long time.