He is the former National Security Agency computer specialist contractor who disclosed classified documents from the agency and, working with a British journalist, released some of them to the public.
Snowden currently remains in a form of exile in Russia.
Because of his disclosures, it was revealed the NSA may have been collecting “megadata,” retrieving data from communication sources without any pinpointed reason.
Some have called him a hero and some a traitor.
I’m going to answer the question without actually answering it.
There was a time when national security was respected enough even the media held onto secrets it gathered.
Because it was felt the enemies of World War II would feel empowered knowing America’s commander in chief was disabled, it was agreed there would be no photographs of Franklin D. Roosevelt taken or published of him in a wheelchair.
Even the late Walter Cronkite, who after retirement from the news anchor’s chair showed his comfort with more liberal views, expressed the need to hold tight to military secrets.
“They should have had censorship in Vietnam,” Cronkite said in a 2003 interview. “I believe there should be censorship in wartime. I believe it firmly. I’m more comfortable when we are clear that our reporting is not putting our troops in jeopardy and making the job more difficult and prolonging the killing.”
Cronkite also said that reporters should be allowed to keep a full report of all they see and hear so that, even if not immediately, it could be opened up eventually as a full account of history.
The general public probably cannot fathom what it really does take to keep our country safe. And, like the old adage about not wanting to know how hot dogs are made, it’s probably better kept unsaid.
However, Mr. Snowden has taken a different and dangerous view.
He has revealed thousands of pages of classified military and diplomatic documents with details on the war on terror. He claims it is a public service and will prevent more “criminal activity.”
Mr. Snowden must be blind to the heinous acts the worldwide terrorism network has done and continues to attempt. He must also not realize the serious jeopardy his actions do to quell efforts to stop those who wish harm on all free people and democracies.
The word “classified” speaks for itself.
Those who know far more than the general public felt this information should be kept under wraps.
As a reporter, I would never endorse the idea of hindering a free press. I do endorse the idea of a free and responsible press.
In 1962, a New York Times reporter stumbled upon the details of the Soviet missile buildup in Cuba while President John F. Kennedy and his staff were juggling serious options related to the handling of what could have developed into nuclear war.
The president called then-Times publisher Orvil Dryfoos and asked him to hold the story until Kennedy could address the nation.
If the Times had broken that story — and every newspaper wants to break a big story — there is no way to know what that information going public at the time would have done.
Dryfoos made the right and responsible decision and held the story.
Snowden has been charged with espionage and rightly so.
Those who do release classified materials are criminals and should be treated as such.
There is also a black mark on the British journalist who has taken such joy in helping Snowden.
My brethren in the press need to undertake a serious gut check when it comes to reporting on sensitive classified materials, and do nothing to encourage those who seem to take pleasure in doing it with reckless abandon.
Those of us who are not involved in such matters do not know exactly what the government is doing to keep us safe. All that we can know is it seems to be working.
If those efforts fail or are thwarted, the result could be no country for a free press to serve.
Even as liberal a voice as Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, weighs in strongly.
“This program, in conjunction with other programs, keeps this country safe,” she recently said. “I am not saying it’s indispensable, but I am saying it is important, and it is a major tool in ferreting out a potential terrorist attack.”