In response to a comment by 11th ACR, this will be my second post on Edward Snowden. In my first post “Did he even have access” I addressed the possibility of Snowden having access. I believe he probably did. Although not Snowden post per se, I posted about the NSA and the programs it may be undertaking in “NSA got your number”. This post will be solely on Snowden and what should happen to him.
First I’ll say I’m conflicted. While I believe leakers are a serious problem for national security, I’ve also seen the system used to benefit some and not others. When information that the administration, any administration, is purposely leaked to benefit those in charge it’s not seen as a big deal. The problem is that only certain key points are released to create the narrative that the administration at the time wishes to put out. This cannot be refuted since it’s all classified. Often this can contribute to the harming of national security. This is not transparency or even honesty. It’s spin, spin at the expense of our safety.
The other issue I have is that if the American public don’t know at least the outline of what their own government is doing how can they let their voices be known in elections or policy debates? While sources and methods have traditionally been off limits, the concepts of operations have been known in many national security programs. I for one, can’t simply trust our officials. I want oversight and rule of law that is enforceable. Without someone checking up on our national security apparatus it is too easy for good intentions to be misused. Unfortunately our elected officials often don’t seem up to the oversight task and spend more time raising money than actually sitting on their various committees.
With that said what do I think of Snowden? Well, from reports I’ve read it would appear Mr. Snowden is and has been very naïve or very sneaky. He didn’t appear to have anything against the current administration but came to see the programs run by the government as dangerous to the American public.
So, is he a hero or a traitor? Frankly he’s looking more like a traitor everyday, however, I would be happy to see a trial and give him a chance to explain how leaking national security secrets was not a crime. If it’s found he was paid in anyway, he’s done. If he actually took those secrets and files with him to China, Russia and has them on his laptops, he’s done. So, he has a pretty big hurdle to climb to get on the right side of things with me.