Edward Snowden is a whistleblower and not a traitor, according to the nation's newspaper of record. The New York Times and The Guardian newspapers published editorials Thursday that threw support behind the former NSA contractor who's been in exile after exposing America's dirtiest secrets. With three words--Edward Snowden, Whistleblower--the Old Gray Lady and friends paved the way for others to be more vocal in their support Snowden.
For the last six months, we haven't been able to decide if he's a hero or a villain. On one hand, he almost single-handedly started a global conversation on the extent to which our government is spying on us. On the other hand, he embarrassed this country. And, he appealed for asylum in countries that are not exactly on the friendliest terms with the U.S., taking our secrets with him. Doesn't that make him a spy? President Obama thinks so. John Boehner thinks he's a traitor.
Conservatives, I think, generally support what Snowden did while being somewhat turned off by how he did it. At least that's what they said. I suspect many had to parse words to make sure they didn't sound like they were too supportive of a man who is an enemy of the state, even though they were privately rooting for him. We just know how you guys work.
With the Times proclaiming he's practically a hero, I think we'll hear more and more support for him, from all sides. There will be more editorials, articles, and news stories about him. I assume a movie will be made--probably a mix of the Terminal, All the President's Men, and Enemy of the State. Even President Obama will have to soften his stance. I mean, his biggest cheerleaders just criticized him. At least they gave him about seven months to mull it over--had Snowden leaked these documents when Bush was president they'd be calling for Bush's impeachment and for Snowden to be canonized on Day One.
President Obama is really looking like the bad guy here, for defending the egregious invasions into our private lives and for chasing Snowden all over the globe. Snowden's father said he suspects Obama is misleading the American people for suggesting that his son had other, legal avenues for exposing what the NSA was doing.
Really? He's supposed to trust a man who has prosecuted twice as many whisteblowers as all the previous presidents combined? If he listened to that advice, Snowden would be rotting in a prison somewhere and we wouldn't know anything about the American government's domestic spying abuses.
Put yourself in his shoes. You want to do the right thing and alert the American people. You first try to tell your superiors. They want nothing to do with it. You know whistleblowers are being prosecuted at a rapid rate. You have crucial information the public needs to know. Would you flee the country and leak it to journalists? That sounds like the right thing to do. But you'd have to go to a non-extradition treaty country like Russia. Just like Snowden did. So, unless new information comes to light, we should take the Times' lead and assume he's trying to help Americans, not hurt America. Good on the Times and The Guardian for saying it.