China’s ability to monitor its citizens is generally considered to be a threat to the freedom of its citizens. But in the U.S, and according to information made public by Edward Snowden, government monitoring has been on-going and without restrictions. For this reason, Snowden used his high-level access to classified information to leak reports to the press that revealed massive U.S. government surveillance at home and abroad.
Snowden downloaded over 1.5 million files before jetting from Hawaii to Hong Kong to meet with U.S. journalists. Then, after he handed off his stolen documents, he flew from Hong Kong to Moscow while newspapers went to work, exposing spy programs run by the NSA (National Security Agency).
Snowden’s actions were heroic.
Snowden’s actions were altruistic
Snowden writes, “I don’t want to live in a society that does these sort of things… I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under.”
Snowden’s leaks were responsible for changes made as the Patriot Act was replaced by the U.S. Freedom Act
The Freedom Act restricts the government’s ability to make large metadata collections (example of metadata: a list of numbers you call; not what is said during the conversation).
Snowden was a traitor.
widespread damage to the U.S.
The Wall Street Journal reports:
The exposure of the National Security Agency’s telephony metadata collection—the time, length and destination but not the substance of calls made in the U.S.—and Internet surveillance programs have gotten the most attention. But the Pentagon found that most of the stolen documents concern and potentially compromise ongoing military operations.
Read the full article here: Snowden’s Damage (WSJ)
Snowdens’ leaks harmed relationships with allies, exposed tactics and set back our effort to infiltrate Al Qaeda.
In March 2014, Army General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the House Armed Services Committee, “The vast majority of the documents … had nothing to do with exposing government oversight of domestic activities. The vast majority of those were related to our military capabilities, operations, tactics, techniques and procedures.”
Snowden wasn’t blowing the whistle on illegal acts
He exposed a series of programs that were authorized by Democratic and Republican presidents and Congress, and approved by numerous federal judges. That means Snowden was exposing something he didn’t like or believe in, not something that was illegal.
There is some interpretation of federal whistle-blower laws that suggests that Snowden would have been protected from prosecution under these laws. Note: this interpretation is open to debate, but, in the least, it isn’t clear that Snowden would NOT have received protection, which is what he repeatedly claimed to have pushed him to take off for China.
If Snowden believes in free speech, why flee to China and then Russia
Read more here: Snowden Leaks Timeline (Business Insider)
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