Personally, I think he's a hero. There have many of us in the I.T. business warning about this sort of surveillance for 20 years, but we were dismissed as tin-foil hat wearing conspiracy theorists. Snowden proved that the actual activity went way beyond what even the most ardent conspiracy advocates would have believed.
The government, especially the NSA and the IRS, needs to be reined in, but I seriously doubt that it will ever happen. We are already well on our way to an Orwellian, totalitarian state unless radical changes are made soon.
"The good news about computers is that they do what you tell them to do. The bad news is that they do what you tell them to do." -- Ted Nelson
I'm split, I have argued both sides with myself, and lost the argument.
On one side, he blew the whistle on some (IMHO) egregious over extensions of what is allowable, plus pointed out some serious hypocrisy (banning Huawei, ZTE from the US market because the Chinese government spies).
On the other, he had a security clearance, probably Top Secret/SCI. Even a simple Secret clearance requires that you sign a foot high stack of papers explaining that you are privileged to have this access, and if you pass any of it on, you are committing a long list of felony crimes. So he signed, and then he pass it on. Ergo, he is a criminal.
I'll probably settle for letting him freeze the rest of his life in Putin's Russia.
Well, you know, there's a tremendous systemic bias against whistle-blowers, regardless of who they are blowing the whistle against. It starts in childhood, where you wouldn't ever dare tell the teacher about nefarious goings-on in the schoolyard, and doesn't get much better in adulthood. Would you rat out (there you are, the phrase has its own built-in bias) your neighbour for dumping out used engine oil in the back lane?
And so just the fact that people here are not willing to condemn Snowden that strongly translates into an overwhelming vote of confidence when you factor out that systemic bias.
Here in the UK revelations about phone tapping by the press and security services, the abuse of the RIPA law, the sexual and physical abuse of children by priests, the Snowden leaks about the security services, 'plebgate', the 'weapons of mass destruction' lies and fraudulent expense claims by politician are just a few of the examples of why our politicians, police, churches, local authorities, armed forces, press and security services cannot be trusted. Without whistle blowers much of this abuse of position and power would be never see the light of day and, though whistle blowing goes against my upbringing, I find I am generally in favour of it.
author & internet detective
IANAL, but I think Greg is at least partially right. I think the U.S. could file charges within the time period. The fact that they can't have a trial because he is hiding or Russia refuses to extradite him isn't their fault. The purpose of the limit is to protect the defendant's rights - a speedy trial for one. If the trial is delayed due to the defendant's own actions, the limit wouldn't apply.
Richard Tookey wrote:So, unless he is given a Presidential Pardon, it looks like Snowden is stuffed and will remain in exile forever.
Just being somewhat anal .... Technically, since Snowden hasn't been convicted, it would be more of an immunity than a pardon. Of course, the next question is has a president ever granted a presidential "pardon" to someone who hasn't been convicted?
The man's a hero, plain and simple. He sacrificed everything to do what was morally right. What the NSA did, and continues to do, is criminal. I can't believe these revelations haven't caused more outrage than they have. Both domestically within the US, and internationally - especially the latter. I find the seemingly apathetic response of a lot of people and govenments truely incomprehensible. I wonder how that must be like for Snowden, screaming at the top of his lungs: "Look! Look at what they're doing! Look at what they're getting away with! Don't you understand how wrong this is? Don't you understand how dangerous this is?", and people just shrug it off.
Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life.
Jelle Klap wrote:What the NSA did, and continues to do, is criminal. I can't believe these revelations haven't caused more outrage than they have.
I agree that what NSA did was immoral and excessive and stupid over the long term. But its unlikely that what they did is criminal under US Law.
The US population and politicians were terrorized by the 9/11 attacks, and were willing to do anything to prevent another. The Congress passed near-idiotic laws that attack the very heart of the freedoms that make America great.
The law enforcement bureaucrats, like all bureaucrats at all times, saw an opportunity to grow their power and budgets and jumped on it.
IMHO, the outrage is more muted in general that I'd expect (or want) because most of the country is incapable of assessing risk and making informed judgements about how much risk is abated by which political/bureaucratic policy. The chance of another 9/11 is non-zero and little that we are doing is changing that. IMHO, the TSA is a complete waste of time and taxpayer's money.
Pat Farrell wrote:
But its unlikely that what they did is criminal under US Law.
Poor wording on my part, perhaps, but US law doesn't really concern me.
I agree that the "threat of terrorism" has caused a very disconcerting shift in govenment policies that is eroding the freedom and privacy of citizens the world over - certainly not limited to the US.
And for what, the illusion of security? What was that Benjamin Franklin quote again: "They who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety"?
Jelle Klap wrote:Poor wording on my part, perhaps, but US law doesn't really concern me.
Well, US law is the only law that he could have broken. He was in the US, is a US citizen, and released US "secret" (or above) documents. If he didn't break any US laws, he is not, by definition, a criminal.
I love that quote. Its usually attributed to Ben Franklin, but I've never seen a serious citation of when he said it, or even what is the accurate wording.
What should happen? I dunno, although I think he was courageous in being prepared to act on his own conscience and wreck his own life in the process. I certainly wouldn't have had the guts/naivety/stupidity (* delete according to personal bias) to do what he did in the name of conscience.
But you can be absolutely sure that whatever the US public might think, he is not going to get away lightly. Not because of what people might think about his individual actions, but because no government can afford to set a precedent whereby people who explicitly sign up to all kinds of obligations under the banner of "security" can simply disregard those obligations and publish whatever they find in the "Top Secret" files. The US government spent 10 years hounding a UK citizen who poked his nose around in their computers looking for UFO stories, they dropped Manning in a hole for 35 years, and they're probably just waiting for Assange to be extradited to Sweden so they can grab him off the Swedes. Why would they let Snowden get away with this?
Pat Farrell wrote:I love that quote. Its usually attributed to Ben Franklin, but I've never seen a serious citation of when he said it, or even what is the accurate wording.
The earliest reference seems to be from November 11, 1755, a letter to the governor of Pennsylvania. See the second-to-last paragraph. "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."