The Guardian breaks down the essential difference between spy and whistleblower. Its a nasty catch-22 when you work in the intelligence community. Everything you see is likely secret which means alerting the public to violations – either in fact, or in principle – by their designated trustees, is likely to bring accusations of espionage. Charges of espionage are a wonderfully potent tool for silencing criticism.
What isn’t valid is the blithe assertion, absent evidence, that the former NSA contractor actively collaborated with America’s enemies. Snowden made classified information about widespread surveillance available to the American public. That’s a curious definition of an enemy for US legislators to adopt.
The key in the Snowden case is that he did not provide information to a foreign entity, he opted to release the information to the one watchdog capable of brining the state to heel – the press. Yes foreign governments and agencies can read that material now, but the release was to the public. Specifically, the American public. Now if the American government considers its own people an enemy or adversary, doesn’t that say something a whole lot more important than the encrypted documents in Snowden’s possession?