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

By definition, Snowden is a traitor to his nation. He might have ethical justification for his treason, but there’s no confusing that he is guilty of it.

ETA: I never thought he was a hero, and I still do not. I do have hope that some good might come out of his treachery, however.

Well, that must depend on your definition of “traitor”. “Acting in a way that your government doesn’t like” or “. . . in a way that damages the interests of your government” would be a very broad definition, and would catch an awful lot of people who aren’t conventionally considered traitors. As far as the legalities go, SFAIK Snowden hasn’t yet been charged with treason, must less convicted of it, so it seems a bit premature to say that “there’s no confusing that he is guilty of it.”

Like others in this thread, I don’t necessarily consider him a hero, but nothing in the OP seems to me to be at all relevant to the question of whether his actions are heroic or not.

That article makes no mention of Snowden. Not every NSA leak is his.

Also, not everything legal is right, and vice versa. In fact, legality is irrelevant to morality.

My mistake, it does mention him. I had seen speculation elsewhere that this particular leak wasn’t Snowden’s, and for some reason Firefox’s search function didn’t work when I opened the page.

Either way, I think hijacking hardware is a legitimate tool in some instances, but that doesn’t mean it should be kept secret. Similar to phone tapping. People should know the technology exists and may be used, but not necessarily the specific targets (assuming they are legitimate targets and not “every last human in country X”.

Snowden worked for the National Security Agency, an agency dedicated to the protection of U.S. interests and its citizens, and which requires of oaths of secrecy. Breaking those oaths alone, brazenly betraying the trust of one of the most important institutions for national security, fulfills the requirement for treason. Again, one might argue that his mactions be ethically justified, but those actions are treason according to any reasonable definition of the word.

In addition, Snowden’s leaks have revealed substantial details about U.S. capabilities and actions taken in maintaining U.S. national security interests, both domestic and abroad, which could give an advantage to potential adversaries. Treason.

Ah, yes. Snowden fled the country and sought asylum, but … why? Because he needed an extended vacation?

Incidentally, Snowden has, in fact, been charged with various crimes that do, by definition, amount to an accusation of treason, including espionage, “unauthorized communication of defense information”, and “willful communication of classified communications intelligence.”

Of course he fled justice and sought asylum with a potential adversary rather than face these accusations.

As long as there was any illegal behavior that was not already widely known, I don’t think I can ask people in his position to make point by point legal determinations. If he ended up revealing nothing illegal or nothing illegal that we didn’t already know about and he ended up compromising informants and our national security, then it would be easy to condemn him. As it is, he did in fact reveal some previously unknown government misbehavior so while I don’t consider him a hero, I am a bit more forgiving of his actions than that army guy (what was his name again?).

Yeah, public interest (more like public curiosity) does not trump national security.

I’m not all that fond of any kind of spying to begin with so my opinion remains unchanged


By definition George Washington was also a traitor. I believe his actions to be a net positive as well.

So no, publicly revealing details about US capabilities and actions and harming US national security interests is not the same thing as treason.

I’m sure Snowden has broken at least a dozen laws against revealing secret information. That doesn’t make what he did treason. Read the constitution.

There are definitions of treason other than the legal one. The fact that he isn’t being specifically charged with the crime of treason does not exclude him from colloquially being referred to as a traitor, which, IMO, he is.

Hang on tight to your wall, Humpty.

Sure, but Washington wasn’t a traitor to the United States. He was a traitor to the British crown which made him a hero to the United States (after the fact).

I’m sure the governments of China and Russia and the organization of al’Qaeda consider Snowden a great hero though for benefiting their cause and giving them a great wealth of aid, just as we consider Washington a hero.

Bradley Manning now known as Chelsea Manning. I’ve read criticism for Manning not reading every document he leaked BUT he acted with hopes of revealing war crimes would inform citizens about the war. He is a hero for giving up his own freedom for what WAS a crime.
Whistleblowing on that account should have protections but Manning wasn’t allowed to use the war crimes defence.
Now Snowden is lambasted for carefully choosing what to reveal not to harm national security.

I suppose it depends on how you define hero. People are complex and can be flawed or break the law and still act courageously.
If the laws weren’t secret and they’d been open with them rather than legal memos on post-its retroactively giving previous administrations immunity then Snowden would have known what was legal. Greenwald and the guardian had lawyers inspect these documents.
Laws should be clear.

Snowden didn’t commit treason unless you only place value on the interests of the select few spying agencies. That’s not treason when they actively go against our interests as citizens with secret unconstitutional laws.

Are you kidding me?

Absolutely, George Washington was a traitor to the British Crown.

It certainly is, by any reasonable definition.

Providing secrets which may aid our enemies is treason, and he has done that.

Then why hasn’t he actually been charged with treason?

Well, uncovering government malfeasance is everyone’s duty, and the ones knowingly taking part in that malfeasance are the treasonous traitors. The other one is a whistleblower.

Is this a typo? Is there a ‘not’ missing from that statement?

My point upthread (but not in the OP) was the opposite: that Snowden did NOT choose what to reveal and thereby divulged information that was both secret and legally obtained. It seems he just spilled whatever he could get his hands on (or, as I said above, “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).”