Do you still consider Edward Snowden a hero now that we know he's disclosed secret and LEGAL info?

Yes, another Edward Snowden thread. No apologies.

This recent article from the New York Times (and thus, presumably accurate) notes that Edward Snowden disclosed secret and obviously politically sensitive information about the NSA’s & the US Cyber Command’s “QUANTUM Program”.

From the linked NYT article:

In other words, QUANTUM has not been used for illegal surveillance inside the US, and has not been used in any way to violate citizens’ privacy.

By illuminating QUANTUM, Snowden is providing what can only be considered to be helpful information to America’s enemies, adversaries, and rivals (including not just China, but terror networks and drug cartels as well).

By being unwilling or unable to separate what he believes to be illegal and/or unconstitutional NSA surveillance operations from legal ones, Snowden has demonstrated exactly why airing such concerns in public, on front pages around the globe, is not the way to do it.

Hero? I think he is, at best, an idealist who is doing a fine job of compromising LEGAL and important surveillance activities. He should be prosecuted should the opportunity arise.

While I don’t go to the extremes of hero worship or demonization, I have to comment that Snowden has released a plethora of documentation about what the NSA does do against citizens.

Because he incorrectly identified some programs along with that other information that was illegal shouldn’t automatically demonize him.

My question is this: Considering the NSA’s objectives and tactics to achieve those objectives, including self-expansion of court-allowed activities, do you think any administration would have taken these complaints seriously without the threat of publicizing them? When all of this is both covert and incredibly damaging to whomever is in the White House at the time, I would suspect that it’d get buried.

Meh. This particular set of burglar tools was not used by someone with a known rap sheet as long as your arm. So?

Do you not think that, as an absolute minimum, he should have removed anything having to do with intelligence gathering in, and regarding, foreign countries? Not to have done so shows a frighteningly cavalier attitude about hugely important issues and operations. In my mind, that makes him an idiot or an asshole (and maybe even a traitor).

Mmm. If something would be illegal if done within the US, then there must be at least a question over the morality of doing it outside the US. Consequently the fact that some of what Snowden disclosed was not illegal because not done within the US does nothing, in itself, to suggest that he ought not to have disclosed it. There may still be a considerable public interest in knowing that the US government is doing things even if those things are not illegal under US law.

Plus, of course, those things may very well have been illegal in the places that they were done. I can’t, off-hand, think of any plausible moral code under which the US government gets a free pass to break the laws of every country except the US, and disclosing that it is doing so must be wrong.

No, I don’t. The United States government should not be spending billions of dollars to betray its allies and break their laws to violate the rights of their citizens.

I never considered Snowden a hero.

Neither did I.

I consider the whole matter too complex to boil down in such simple terms.

Indeed. “Gentlemen don’t read each other’s mail”. :dubious:

Are you kidding? Virtually every country in the world has a means to kill enemies and some way to steal secrets from other countries. You’ve just established, for the most part, that the United States is no different from any other country.

Can you serious not think of any valid reason for countries to try to get their hands on the secrets of their adversaries?

These are good points. Do I still consider Snowden a net positive? Yes but he has done things that make me uncomfortable. The fact that we can hack into computers that aren’t connected to the net bothers me because this is likely how the US got the stuxnet virus into Iran’s centrifuges. Now nations like Syria, Iran, North Korea, etc. can plan accordingly to prevent this from happening. Plus his willingness to help nations in exchange for asylum is bothersome, him trading his secrets for personal gain and all.

But all in all, he is still a net positive.

Yeah, false premise. I never considered him a hero.

I wasn’t clear in my title. It was basically a rhetorical question or, at least, was directed to those on the Dope who do consider him a hero (and previous threads have shown there are plenty here who think that).

Well, it seems NYT passes its intelligence news through US intelligence censors, so I’m inclined to doubt what they have to say about it. I’m guessing little circuit boards & RF transmitters in USB cables is old news to the global intelligence world, and this is just smearing Snowden. It’s only news to the rest of us outside the intelligence world. We have whole areas of cities these days covered in wi-fi. Downloading and running software on computers using radio? Someone should market that!

Never really thought about whether he was a hero or not. I wonder if he’s a filthy traitor or not, and I don’t think he is.

The problem is that we can’t know what he knew. Let’s say that there was a timeline he knew about but couldn’t get get access to in documented form showing the roll out of this technology against citizens, as other technology was. Does this change your assessment? It should.

Lacking that key piece of information, it’s very hard for me to consider this either good or bad. Sure, terrorists could use it to circumvent the NSA’s gathering methods. But how useful is a tool that harms it’s user as much or more than it harms it’s target? Americans shouldn’t give up their liberties or privacy to justify spying on a perceived external threat.

It looks like Snowden is as flawed as the rest of us. I still believe his actions are a net positive.

It’s a bit of a leap (quantum leap, har har) from


“No evidence” is not the same as “definitely not true”. And based on what we know about all the things the NSA has done, if it hasn’t yet gotten around to using this particular technology against its own countrypeople, that probably isn’t because of any admirable restraint, but more likely because it has so much other cool stuff to spy on you with that it was spoilt for choice…

How disappointing. Why, he’s almost as bad as Darrell Issa.

So? I don’t believe that the US is different from any other country. But how to you get from there to concluding that disclosing secret measures taken by the US against other countries or against the citizens of other countries must be wrong?

Of course I can. For that matter, I can think of valid reasons why a countries might want to get its hands on the secrets of people within its own borders.

But it doesn’t follow (in either case) that all reasons for wanting to do such a thing are valid, or that it is inherently wrong to disclose actions taken by governments for either of these purposes.

Thanks - you’ve summed up my thoughts better, and more politely than I could have.