July 13, 2013

NSA Leak: The Bogus Edward Snowden Narrative

There’s a spurious narrative about NSA leaker Edward Snowden and it goes something like this:  Snowden sure picked some questionable places to flee to (China, Russia) if he’s so worried about his freedoms. Both liberal and conservative pundits have issued this narrative and comedian Bill Maher has told jokes invoking it. But the problem with this bogus anecdote is that it assumes Snowden leaked information for his own personal benefit. So far there is zero evidence that he did this for fame or did this to advance a self-serving agenda. All indications are that Edward Snowden leaked the NSA spying information, including details about the PRISM program, because he truly cares about our constitutional rights being infringed by our government.

You might think the optics of fleeing to China and Russia are bad, but that doesn’t change the information he leaked. And if he did leak this information for the benefit of all United States citizens, then it would seem to me that his fleeing is itself a sacrifice. So many people say Snowden is a coward because he fled, but considering his current location in limbo in a Russian airport terminal instead of working a high-paying job and living in Hawaii, I’d say he made a hell of a sacrifice. It’s a sacrifice that most of us would never make. So maybe we are the cowards.

Snowden’s action was an important service to American democracy. I don’t know if he’s a hero, but I know he’s not a coward.

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