Once in a while a hero comes along. Now some may think this to be rather fluffy, and, perhaps, a Pollyannaish description of someone who’s committed "gross atrocities" against the security of the United States of America. I mean, seriously, ex-CIA chief James Woolsey thinks execution shouldn’t be out of the question. But there’s a bigger picture. Edward Snowden did break laws; however, he did so as a necessity of defense—preventing a greater constitutional harm from continuing to go on; namely, the unbridled search and seizure of our nation’s entire citizenry. Sure there are grey lines to this issue—grey, blurry, even invisible—and that’s the problem. Corruption unseen is unfixable.
In the past, other NSA and intelligence community officials have tried to foster redress but were stymied at every turn. Snowden was clearly aware of these past efforts and strategically took another tack. Now Obama, Congress, the nation, is in the middle of a conversation regarding what limits should be placed on our spying on ourselves—a conversation that would have never happened had Snowden balked at the heroic impulses coursing through his mind last summer.
The question for current administrators of our government (Obama, Justice, Congress, et al) is why press the case against a whistleblower who ultimately has succeeded in exposing real corruptions in the heart of our governing apparatus?
There is good evidence to indicate the path Snowden took was the only way he was going to bring these abuses of power to light. To wit, we have heard testimony from former NSA officials like Kirk Wiebe defending Snowden based on their own experience of attempting to expose the agency’s overreaching acts. What was Snowden to do? By his lights, what was transpiring was unlawful. There is no agency or official above the law—and the highest law in the land is the U.S. Constitution, which the NSA has been undermining by casting a nationwide dragnet. It didn't discriminate against anybody, because it was everybody.
The irony is, is that when people are elected to governmental positions of leadership, like Obama, they will refuse to admit any nuance with regard to executing the laws of the land. Therefore, Snowden has ‘committed numerous felonies and needs to face justice.’ But there is nuance here—who’s looking out for the people’s right to privacy? Who’s making sure agencies aren’t violating constitutional protections? Snowden. And that’s why he should be exonerated and declared that rarest of things, a hero willing to sacrifice his own livelihood, career—even his life—to serve a greater good. If it was up to me, Snowden should get a ticker tape parade.