Edward Joseph Snowden, born on June 21, 1983, is an American individual who worked at Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and later as a contractor for the National Security Agency (NSA). He is now best known for disclosing details of classified NSA surveillance programs to the press.
From extracts that are still coming, it is clear that Mr. Snowden had been in talk with Glenn Greenwald, reporter for the Guardian, a UK newspaper, well before the actual public disclosure of the classified information.
Mr. Snowden claimed to be concerned about the US government practice of collecting information about its citizens. While I am sympathetic to Mr. Snowden’s logic, there are a few points that I would very much like to clarify.
Mr. Snowden, as an employee or a contractor, was well aware before accepting the job what it entails, what NSA is about. It’s near impossible to imagine that Mr. Snowden, or anybody for that matter, would be offered an opportunity at any organization without having some sort of conversation regarding the particular job. At the very least, I would conjecture that he was briefed, however superficial. In addition, to work with classified information, Mr. Snowden had to take an oath not to discuss nor share classified information with “un-cleared” personnel, including family members.
While the general public is not privy to the level of details behind those activities conducted at NSA, we can intelligently assume that an agency whose job is to ensure the national security of the country, especially after 9/11, would look under every rock to find information that helps fulfill its duties.
If we go along for a minute with Mr. Snowden’s claim that his repeated concerns about the collections of information on US citizens were ignored (which I doubt, considering the system in place for that purpose), he had the choice of leaving the agency and getting a job elsewhere where he would not have to deal with this situation any longer. I do understand this solution would not have necessarily put Mr. Snowden’s mind to ease; he would probably still think of those activities from time to time. Consequently, his “urge” to disclose classified information would probably happen at one time or another. In “my book”, that would be classified as noble, daring, justified even if that means to go to jail, which by the way would also be justified considering he would have violated the very oath not to disclose classified information, that was either shared with him or information he came across in his daily work.
There are two very blatant facts that provide a window to understand, or at very least, begin to understand what Mr. Snowden had in mind, which seems to be morphing continuously.
First, the very fact that he had to flee the country is very telling. People don’t run and hide for doing the right thing. If he indeed believed, as he is now claiming, that he was doing that for the love of his country (that’s worth dying for, as he puts it), why, in the world would he have to run, of all likely places to China. It was a very calculated move on the part of Mr. Snowden. Unfortunately! My suspicion is that his mis-calculation is due to something more sinister than he is ready or willing to reveal at this point.
Second, he did not just take with him classified information that are simply geared towards his “so called” concerns – collections of information on US Citizens – Mr. Snowden also carried with him classified information NSA collected on other countries, on other individuals of interest. In the unlikely event Mr. Snowden were to be oblivious of NSA main job, it is to collect information on other countries, on people around the world, any information that would help with the security of the United States.
I am not sure I understand where that fits into Mr. Snowden’s claim of concerns. I am however certain of at least one thing, his action warrants his act to flee the United States. However his act is sliced and diced, this is not an act of heroism. To expose the very apparatus that provides protection and security to our country doesn’t spell heroism. It is at best an act of treason. Mr. Snowden deserves no less than being apprehended (extracted from China or wherever he happens to be, if possible), tried and jailed for treason, for defection, for stupidity.
Mr. Snowden is no hero.