Is Edward Snowden a hero for leaking the “secret” NSA government program?
The past couple of days I have been asked to convey my opinion on Edward Snowden. Many would like to know my thoughts on his actions and his future. By now most Americans know of the NSA scandal. Snowden leaked to the British newspaper “The Guardian” that the American government was collecting phone records for millions of Verizon Wireless cell phone users. From my understanding, and from what has been acknowledged by President Obama, the NSA has lists of phone calls and the duration of each call.
The government does not however state the user’s name next to the phone record. If there are suspicious phone calls being placed with phone numbers from known terrorists to U.S. residents then a court order can provide more information as to whom the number belongs to; otherwise the identity of the user is protected. The president and members of Congress (many who have known of the program) vehemently believe its constitutionality. They do not believe that it infringes on a citizen’s right to privacy.
Edward Snowden, an NSA contractor working in Hawaii, was last known to be living in Hong Kong. Snowden will most likely be looking at criminal charges and immediate extradition to the U.S. Speaker John Boehner this morning appeared on a taped segment on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” When asked by host George Stephanopoulos what he thought of Snowden, he replied: “he is a traitor.” He went on to say: “the disclosure of this information puts Americans at risk, it shows our adversaries what our capabilities are, and it’s a giant violation of the law.”
Daniel Ellsberg, a former U.S. military analyst, is most famous for releasing the “Pentagon Papers” to the New York Times and other publications. (For more information on the “Pentagon Papers” refer to my May post on James Goodale’s book “Fighting for the Press”). Ellsberg considers Snowden a hero. He commends his bravery and admits that his life will never be again the same.
So is Edward Snowden a hero?
I don’t know if hero is the right word but I do think he should be commended for leaking the NSA program. Here’s why:
- If the government program is truly legal then what is the problem with the public knowing of its existence. In fact why hasn’t the government acknowledged it sooner?
- Snowden only confirmed a program that we all sort of knew was already going on in this country. If you didn’t suspect this was going on then you may possibly have been living under a rock.
- It should be noted that Snowden is essentially surrendering his citizenship. By leaking the classified information he has garnered the ire of the U.S. government. They will do whatever they can to extradite and imprison him for defying them.
Do you think he is a hero?
What do you think of the NSA controversy?
Twitter: @adrakontaidis & @talkrealdebate