Edward Snowden: Hero or Traitor?
Pundits weigh in on both sides
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted Jun 11, 2013 12:10 PM CDT
This photo provided by the Guardian in London shows Edward Snowden.   (AP Photo/The Guardian)

(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.

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Jun 17, 2013 10:21 PM CDT
The Federal Government and the NSA are the ones that have violated the trust of the country. Edward Snowden has only verfied that our Government is something other than it wants us to believe. My vote is the gov and nsa are the bad guys here. The sooner we wake up the safer we are going to be! Let's throw some parties and visit our nsa friend's and our lawmakers and do some spying on them, maybe plant a few camera's and bugs around where they congregate! I mean afterall doesn't "of the people, by the people, for the people" have any meaning, any solid foundation? Edward Snowden is a "of the people, by the people, for the people."
Jun 14, 2013 1:11 PM CDT
Every nation on the planet has secrets that they protect, all nations spy on its citizens as well as each other. The difference in this narrative is simple, Edward Snowden believed that he has uncovered an injustice, when in fact he just educated himself on what many already knew. The United States has kept its citizens under survellience for decades, J.F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, just to name a few were spied on by their government. Our government and governments around the world will continue to spy as long as the world exist.
Jun 12, 2013 4:05 PM CDT
Hero. It takes a brave person to tell the truth. If I had the same information that he did, I would do the same. Remeber this: When the Nazis came for the communists,I remained silent;I was not a communist.When they locked up the social democrats,I remained silent;I was not a social democrat.When they came for the trade unionists,I did not speak out;I was not a trade unionist.When they came for the Jews,I remained silent;I wasn't a Jew.When they came for me,there was no one left to speak out.