As NSA leaker Edward Snowden gets asylum, debate lingers: whistleblower or traitor?

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  • markbishop Caldwell, ID
    Aug. 2, 2013 3:33 p.m.

    That's not true. No one swears an oath when they get clearance. Military individuals swear an oath when they are inducted. High ranking political appointees swear an oath when they take office. No one takes an oath when the simply get clearance.

  • J-TX Allen, TX
    Aug. 2, 2013 2:44 p.m.

    Traitor. And yes, he DID swear an oath. You don't get clearance without that very important step.

  • Res Novae Ashburn, VA
    Aug. 2, 2013 2:08 p.m.

    Snowden revealed details about a program authorized by Congress, enforced by the executive, and overseen by the legislative and the judiciary branch, collecting metadata that of the kind determined to be within scope of the 4th amendment by SCOTUS 4 decades ago. People may have grave concerns about the scope of that program, it's time to have the national discussion about security that the Bush administration told us to ignore after 9/11, and it's reasonable to view Snowden as a whistleblower in that context.

    But he didn't stop there. He took classified documents on computers and fled to nations hostile to the US, and which have aggressive intelligence services capable of retrieving said documents with or without Snowden's cooperation. He has told them specific details about the networks US intelligence has penetrated and how they have been penetrated. He has given specific instances of intercepted conversations by their leadership.

    There is no reasonable way to view Snowden's disclosure of US intelligence's sources and methods against foreign powers as anything other than espionage and treason. He is directly and deliberately undermining US efforts in a way that no argument for whistleblowing can be made.

  • The Economist Newport, PA
    Aug. 2, 2013 1:34 p.m.


    When Osama bin Laden and al qaeda attacked the United States, the government enacted the Patriot Act to fight terrorism. Legally under the Constitution, the Act set out parameters under which the NSA, CIA, etc., were challenged to obtain intelligence to protect Americans from attack. What the NSA has been doing is not unconstitutional or illegal under current law. I don't see how your rights have been trampled upon. Nobody has listened to your telephone conversations or monitored your Internet usage to harm you or press criminal charges against you. Don't argue with me if you don't like the provisions of the Patriot Act. Instead, please contact your congressman and let them hear your views. They are currently debating privacy versus intelligence collection and you're views will help them to decide what is best for America.

  • Aggie238 Logan, UT
    Aug. 2, 2013 12:57 p.m.

    @ The Economist

    We are at war? With whom? When did Congress declare this war (see Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution), and on what grounds? According to your logic, we are also at "war" with drugs, poverty, and probably a dozen other abstract concepts. Do those "wars" also warrant throwing the 4th Amendment out the window? Are we ever NOT going to be at war? While we're at it, since terrorism is such a huge threat, why don't we go ahead and declare "war" on thunderstorms, since you're more than four times as likely to be killed by a lightning bolt than you are to be involved in a terrorist attack. Throw in falling in the bathtub, being hit by cement trucks, and heart disease, too. We'd better declare a lot of wars so we can continue to justify trampling innocent civilians' God-given rights.

  • The Economist Newport, PA
    Aug. 2, 2013 12:29 p.m.

    I'm not sure by definition that Snowden is a traitor, but I believe he violated the law and should be brought to justice.

    The last I heard, America is still at war. Our government has the right to spy on communications to help prevent an attack. There is a difference in preventing an attack and conducting surveillance to make an arrest. During wars, the government has always been able to spy. I don't know what people are upset about. Collecting of data does not mean the NSA is monitoring your individual communications. It is collecting data to search for connections that might result in an attack.

    Anyone educated on the Internet and phones should know that there's no privacy on Internet or phone communciations. That is why we have things like encryption and Virtual Private Networks (VPNs). Terrorists know this. That is why Osama bin Laden communicated using thumb drives with pornography on them as a cover. Am I the only one to remember all this?

  • Anti Bush-Obama Washington, DC
    Aug. 2, 2013 11:34 a.m.

    Typical neocons. They hate Obama with their mouths but when a guy like snowden who care more about the constiution and freedom than they ever will, reveals something that can get Obama out of office, they fall down at Obamas feet and lick his boots like good little slaves.

    Neocons are more hypocritical than the liberals are when it comes to things like this.

  • samhill Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 2, 2013 9:48 a.m.

    My vote, traitor....with a caveat.

    This is a case of many cross cutting currents.

    I think he is every bit the grand-standing egoist with a self-righteous streak that many people have described. He also appears to be someone who has managed to thwart efforts by an administration to apprehend him, or even persuade other countries to detain him.

    An administration whose chief law enforcement/investigative agency (the FBI) managed to ignore/bungle fairly clear evidence (provided by Snowden's now "country of residence") of ill-intent by the Boston Bombers months prior to what became the 2nd worst terrorist act, after the 2009 Fort Hood murders by U.S. Army major, "psychiatrist" and ardent Islam extremist, Nidal Hasan.

    An administration in charge of the IRS, the agency whose corruption in the selective examination potential oppponents to the administration was recently revealed (with continuing difficulty) and is also in charge of enforcing Obamacare, the "train wreck" of a program that is about to descend on us.

    And, so on and so on.

    To sum it up, Snowden is a traitor and to an extent we have yet to see, but he's hardly the only one.

  • JimInSLC Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 2, 2013 9:01 a.m.

    There is no evidence yet that Snowden will or has sold secrets for profit. Those suggesting so, well, that might be what they would do if in the same circumstance. Time will tell. As for me, I think Snowden did a good and courageous deed.

    As for Pvt. Manning, yes he took an oath, but that oath does not extend to covering criminal activity.

    The US participates in atrocities around the world and we think people in other countries hate us for our freedom. You might take a look on youtube and see what the effects of depleted uranium shells are having in Iraq. If your child were born with such defects, I suppose you would not have a very high regard for those responsible. The half-life of uranium is billions of years.

    This years defense budget $600 Billion. That's money that you and I are expected to pay. But it is only added to the national debt so it will be your great-great-grandchildren that will pay.

    Why? Because our own Govt. has gotten the people frightened of a virtually non-existent terrorist threat. We are all going to die, how do you want to live?

  • sjc layton, UT
    Aug. 2, 2013 8:18 a.m.

    You cannot compare this to Bradley Manning. Manning was a soldier who swore an oath to protect his country, and divulged military information. Snowden was a civilian with no such oath or allegiance, and he uncovered the governments practice of spying on its own citizenry.

    Snowden is in trouble because he embarrassed Barry the incompetent, plain and simple

  • Larceny Rural Hall, USA, NC
    Aug. 2, 2013 7:29 a.m.

    @ Iron & Clay

    Yeah, but he would need Tom Cruise's A Few Good Men Lawyer to get him off on that one. There is way too much calling for blood and the Government, in the face of 2 such leaking trials, is more likely to lock him up forever than to give him a fair trial.

    I can't tell, we don't really know the man. Has he sold secrets for personal gain? Undoubtedly, Putin isn't an altruist. Will he sell more to secure a life for himself? Well, lets just say I can't see him living a life on the street after this in the name of "American Security".

    Would he do the right thing and keep quiet if he were guaranteed a fair trial and just treatment in America? Possibly. Possibility of ever seeing his reaction to that outcome: 0%

  • iron&clay RIVERTON, UT
    Aug. 2, 2013 12:00 a.m.

    Let's see, Snowden leaked information about the NSA encroaching on US citizens constitutionally guaranteed rights.

    So what would be the agenda of the government to deal with 'leakers'?

    Apprehend them and send them to a concentration camp in Siberia.

    All this talk about Snowden seeking asylum in the police state of Russia is simply a ruse.

    Snowden would, I think, love to come back to the USA and have a jury of his peers decide his situation with a transparent trial that exposes the NSA's trampling of US citizens individual rights.

  • ulvegaard Medical Lake, Washington
    Aug. 1, 2013 11:49 p.m.

    I will not label Mr. Snowden as a hero and certainly not as a traitor. It is unfortunate that the situation is what it is, but can anyone come up with a plausible alternative that would have exposed the extremes to which our government goes in the name of 'security'?

    The major concern right now, in my mind, is will this incident improve the status, or will enough attention be aimed against Mr. Snowden so that the government over-reach can slip quietly back into secrecy? And what of Benghazi and the IRS issues?

    What information Mr. Snowden may have spilled, in my mind, doesn't make us any less safe than we were before. In this country we are more likely to be run down by a drunk driver than targetted by foreign powers who spy on us every bit as much as we spy on them.

  • Massresident TOPSFIELD, MA
    Aug. 1, 2013 9:32 p.m.

    The claim that the government isn't doing something illegal is simply wrong. The Constitution trumps laws like the "Patriot Act" and searches without probable cause are unconstitutional. Nixon had to resign and many in his inner circle went to jail for something that pales in comparison to what the NSA is up to.

    "Treason" is not a word that should be abused the way this article does. It is the only crime defined in the US Constitution and no one has ever been convicted of it since the country was founded. Benedict Arnold committed treason, Snowdon hasn't.

    The NSA has created a huge "back door" that other countries spies can tap into for commercial and military purposes. I'm sure the Russians and Chinese are pleased but we should not be. Their system is also the greatest tool for tyranny that has ever been assembled. It will be and is being abused. The information being gathered will primarily be used for political purposes. You can be sure that little things, like blowing up the Boston Marathon, are of little interest to the NSA.

  • JWB Kaysville, UT
    Aug. 1, 2013 5:33 p.m.

    Administrations of both parties frequently release information for their own purposes. The other government employees may see this as hypocritical as there is not a line drawn on the executive branch with executive privilege. They twist their words to make it appear legal through the President's office or approval.

  • markbishop Caldwell, ID
    Aug. 1, 2013 4:52 p.m.

    The traitors are the people who are leading this country. That includes nearly everyone in Congress who tolerate being told by the Administration when something is classified and cannot be shared with American citizens. All of them should be recalled so that we can have a Congress that would fulfill its role and impeach and remove the current corruption from the White House. I don't know Snowden's angle on all of this, but in any case I am grateful for anyone who will actually tell me the truth about all of this.

  • sg newhall, CA
    Aug. 1, 2013 4:05 p.m.

    He is not a traitor. He exposed the corruption of our government and especially of this pseudo WH occupier. Obama, Hillary and Holder and Napolitano have done more damage to our country's security than any other. What Snowden did was what any American would do. Can you imagine if our Founding Fathers sat back and did nothing? Sorry, but I don't buy into his being a traitor.

  • KJR Alpine, UT
    Aug. 1, 2013 4:03 p.m.

    Snowden took an oath, earned peoples' trust, and then betrayed it. And did Snowden know everything that the NSA was doing and why? Of course not. He acted on very limited knowledge because he thought the little piece that he saw was wrong. Finally, were his actions the ONLY way to deal with his concern. Again, of course not. If he had any real convictions about what he had done, he would have stayed in the US and taken his medicine. I have mixed feelings. If my neighbor keeps an eye on my house, that's good. If a stranger is watching it, that's bad. Is the NSA the neighbor or the stranger? I'm not so sure anymore . . .

  • idablu Idaho Falls, ID
    Aug. 1, 2013 3:30 p.m.

    Believe me. I am not a fan of this administration, but when it comes to intelligence gathering and national security everything just can't be transparent or open to the public because it puts our security at risk. I am no fan of the Patriot Act and I think Obama has carried it too far in the invasion of the privacy of U.S. citizens. But now our real enemies know exactly what techniques our government uses to snoop, and Snowden has no doubt revealed all the classified information he has had at his access to the Russians ( and several other countries, I'm sure) in exchange for asylum.

    I don't like our government"s policy on snooping on its own citizens but there is no question, Snowden IS a TRAITOR, as is Manning.

  • JohnJacobJingleHeimerSchmidt Beverly Hills, CA
    Aug. 1, 2013 3:22 p.m.

    All you people calling Swodenand a Hero will change your tune once he exchanges US intelligence for a cushy life. What? You think he was going to get a job and settle down and be in Russia without spilling some beans? He will give up all he has and live it up in such a "free country". What's crock that you all fell for his story of wanting to love in a free country. He has only been to contrives that are not freedom loving. Tells you all you need to know about what he is up to, selling to the highest bidder.