Edward Snowden: Hero or Traitor?

Pundits weigh in on both sides

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 11, 2013 12:10 PM CDT

(Newser) – He's either a hero of grand scale or a traitor of the worst kind. Here's a look at some of the opinions about NSA leaker Edward Snowden:

  • John Cassidy, New Yorker: He's clearly a hero. "He has performed a great public service that more than outweighs any breach of trust he may have committed." Cassidy runs through the pros and cons in detail and concludes that Snowden hasn't done any real damage to the NSA's ability to keep the nation safe. The agency, for example, can still go to court to get a wiretap or search warrant, even if Congress stops phone companies "from acting as information-gathering subsidiaries."

  • Ralph Peters, New York Post: He's clearly a traitor, and a self-absorbed one to boot. "He's Kim Kardashian with stubble." Snowden "revealed very highly classified programs, alerting our enemies about our most sophisticated intelligence-collection capabilities." He "broke his oath to protect the information with which we entrusted him," and to Peters, "that's plain treason."
  • David Brooks, New York Times: He ticks off the things Snowden has betrayed, including honesty, his friends, his bosses, the cause of open government (because the powers-that-be will now "close the circle of trust a little tighter"), privacy (if we go from gathering metadata back to old-fashioned eavesdropping), and the Constitution (it's not for one person to decide what should be disclosed). Brooks warns of "the rising tide of distrust, the corrosive spread of cynicism, the fraying of the social fabric and the rise of people who are so individualistic in their outlook that they have no real understanding of how to knit others together and look after the common good."
  • Douglas Rushkoff, CNN: Back to a hero again. Snowden "realized that our very humanity was being compromised by the blind implementation of machines in the name of making us safe." He stepped back from "technology long enough to be human and to consider the impact of what he was helping build." Be glad humans and not robots are making these kinds of decisions.

This photo provided by the Guardian in London shows Edward Snowden.   (AP Photo/The Guardian)
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