The Snowden problem

Dallas Morning News Editorial:

Snowden clearly plans to hopscotch from safe house to safe house, but only in countries he believes — with much justification — would be disinclined to cooperate with the U.S. in returning him to face criminal charges of stealing and divulging classified information. The people behind WikiLeaks, including founder and fellow fugitive-in-hiding Julian Assange, claim to be supporting him.

A hero-or-traitor debate has surrounded Snowden since he outed himself as the source for reports in Britain’s Guardian newspaper and The Washington Post that revealed widespread data collection by the once-supersecret National Security Agency, including the PRISM effort to snoop into some Americans’ email and other online activity.

Somewhere in the middle were people willing to hear him out. As much as we would like the world to be a black-and-white place, Snowden’s story appeared to fall very much into that gray area where one can be both hero and villain.

The problem for Snowden’s defenders — they are legion still — is that flitting from U.S. frenemy to enemy only reinforces his critics, who insist his goal has never been to illuminate a big-brother government to Americans but to undermine their security.

His words said one thing, his actions another. What he has done since making an international splash — hiding, selectively leaking damaging secrets, dodging across the globe — only weakens his case.

In a recent interview with the South China Morning Post, Snowden says he sought work with Booz Allen Hamilton, a U.S. government contractor, specifically to gain access to the classified NSA information he’s now leaking.
Since I have had to handle classified material in the past, I can find no excuse for his abuse of that responsibility.  His cavalier  handling of that material is an attempt to substitute his own judgement for that of the people he reports to.  He is acting above his paygrade.  He is also aiding those who are our enemies.


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