He appears in the news whenever new pilfered documents are revealed to the world, as was the case this week with the German magazine Spiegel, or whenever he is receiving a prize and delivering his acceptance speech.
Edward Snowden's supporters see him as a sort of Martin Luther Snowden--a great civil rights figure blowing the whistle on government spying and its unseen encroachments on personal privacy.
Snowden's admirers have seen fit to bestow on him an ever-growing list of accolades, such as:
- Sweden's "Alternative Nobel Prize," the Right Livelihood Award
- The Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling
- Germany's Stuttgart Peace Prize
- Snowden Film "CitizenFour" Wins Best Documentary Prize
Snowden was nominated for, but didn't win, the Nobel Peace Prize.
The motivation of these prize-givers is to cheer on someone who dealt a blow to the United States' intelligence community, who they see an their enemy. Their prizes serve to enshroud Snowden in a cloak of protection by elevating him in the eyes of the public as something more than a common thief. He becomes someone with gravitas and his crime is forgivable given the favor he has done for the world community be exposing government intrusion in the lives of average citizens. Mass casualties at the hands of jihadists or mass surveillance? Take your pick.
Snowden the Prisoner
Suppose the US captured Snowden tomorrow. Imagine the demonstrations outside the jail and courthouse and in cities across the world. Imagine the threats from world leaders. Imagine the mainstream news media around the world rushing to Snowden's defense. How could any fair and substantial imprisonment be levied without a worldwide outcry?
Snowden the Patriot
If Snowden's point was to expose mass surveillance, he has surely by now accomplished that goal. Yet he continues to reveal his stolen goods. Why? He seems to harbor no qualms that he is helping rogue regimes such as Russia and China by exposing our secrets. Perhaps luring Putin into a false sense of security so he can expose Russia's secrets later? It's a funny thought.
Snowden the Thief
Can even Snowden's most ardent supporters believe he chose the correct method of whistle-blowing? There is no evidence he ever raised concerns with the NSA as he claimed. Having stolen everything he could, wasn't he after something else beyond just exposing mass surveillance? That could have been accomplished with just a few documents.
Snowden the Narcissist
Snowden is more narcissist than patriot. He now seeks to prove himself as someone above a mere thief. He wants gravitas. He wants to be seen as a deep thinker, a man of substance, someone worthy of the prominent position he holds on the world stage.
Snowden the Destroyer
Tech companies are reluctant to share with intelligence agencies, the alliance having been broken by Snowden. Apple and others talk about locking out the NSA from their products. ISIS and al Qaeda approve. Terrorists have changed their methods after revelations of intelligence gathering: "Parts of the radar have gone dark." Relations with usually friendly nations are now on shaky ground.
The problem isn't the NSA or the CIA. For the average citizen, the politicians in Washington, DC are the problem--President Obama and those in the House and the Senate. Politicians such as Obama abuse their power, and the intelligence gathered by the NSA and CIA for the purpose of waging war on their political opponents.
There was no public deliberation on NSA surveillance because Members of Congress haven't been doing their job. It should never have been up to someone like Snowden to precipitate a national debate. He emerged due to the failures of elected representatives.