There is always a fine line between doing what’s right when there are consequences involved for others. Such is the case of Edward Snowden who has become a folk hero of sorts for people across the political spectrum. Some of the most conservative and most liberal public figures have praised Snowden. Other conservatives and liberals have called him a traitor.
Former Attorney General Eric Holder told CNN that what Snowden did was a public service. His caveat for his statement was that “we can certainly argue about the way in which Snowden did what he did.”
That’s not enough. That’s like saying it’s okay to steal from others as long as you give a lot of what you steal to charity. Was there good that came out of the documents that Snowden released? Of course. As a promoter of individual liberties who is against the oppressive direction the federal government has been heading for the last six decades, I am happy that a spotlight was shining, albeit for a short time, on the Draconian practices of our spy organizations. Unfortunately, what Snowden did has caused much more harm than good. In fact, an argument can be made that his actions have accelerated the growth of nefarious parts of the U.S. and world governments that are now more powerful as a result of the leaks.
Edward Snowden is very likely a traitor. I won’t go so far as to say definitively that he is; that’s something for the courts to decide. What we know is that his actions put American lives in jeopardy and harmed the ability of the United States to defend the nation.
Hindsight is 20/20, but Snowden should have gone for help rather than leaking everything to the press. It’s hard to judge someone harshly who took great personal risks in order to do what they thought was right, but that’s why he needed help. There are people within the government who could help, true patriots who take the notion of defending the Constitution seriously. There are people with power outside of the government who would have helped him to go through the documents in order to select enough whistleblowing information that did not put American lives in jeopardy.
What Holder calls a useful way to spark the “national debate” on the subject was a vindictive attack on America rather than a conscientious and righteous measure taken to expose evil. Patriots must be willing to stand up and fight as Snowden did. However, they must have the discernment to do it in a way that yields positive results and protects the lives of Americans. What Snowden did was reckless, damaging, and likely traitorous.