More than 25 thousand people have signed a petition to pardon Edward Snowden, the 29-year-old former intelligence worker who revealed he leaked the government’s secret tracking of Americans’ phone records. Do they think he’s a hero?

The revelation that the NSA was collecting billions of daily records of phone numbers calling other phone numbers while astonishing in its scope isn’t really quite at the level of finding out who shot J.R. Those who paid any attention to the Patriot Act knew we were to be exposed to an entirely new level of government prying into our private lives. Didn’t anyone listen to Ron Paul?

What precisely could Snowden have done that would define him as a hero? Sure he made a choice to do what he believed was the right thing at potentially great peril; life in prison is certainly not an easy stint; but where did his definition of right and wrong come from?

In the opinion of this author, Mr. Snowden is no hero. He is no whistle-blower. He is rather quite the opposite.

Moralistically Mr. Snowden may be right on target. Perhaps even constitutionally Snowden is correct. However you don’t get to test your theory on what the legal limits of the government are by disclosing state secrets. Edward Snowden agreed when granted his security clearance that he would never divulge classified information, not only that information he felt was in-line with his opinion of right and wrong.

Not to defend the Obama Administration, but Congress was repeatedly briefed on these programs and no one has come forward to challenge their legality. A little too “Big Brother” for you? Complain to your Congressman.

Some feel that Snowden had little to gain and a great deal to lose. He sacrificed a comfortable, upwardly mobile life, a $200,000 annual income, his family and girlfriend for a life on the lam, if not in custody.

Or could this be some huge move for public recognition? Surely if the public knew what was going on they wouldn’t allow the messenger to be shot? If that was Snowden’s thinking it may turn out to be the worst played poker hand of all time.

Snowden says he acted only after concluding that a system under which “any analyst at any time can target anyone” poses “an existential threat to democracy.”

Those who argue that Snowden is a hero claim that because of his actions he has forced a public debate on sweepingly invasive programs that should have taken place before they were created. If continued indefinitely, a secret government database permanently tracking the actions of every American would, indeed, pose a threat to democracy.

Yet placing Snowden on a pedestal ignores the dramatic and rather discomforting approach he took in leaking the information. Firstly Snowden gave himself the code name “Verax,” Latin for truth-teller, and warned a Washington Post reporter that the U.S. intelligence community “will most certainly kill you” if it could block the disclosure.

Nor does any potential positive public debate on Snowden’s disclosures alter the fact that Snowden has broken federal laws and exposed classified information that has proven effective in tracking terrorists. If not addressed Snowden’s actions will invite others entrusted with our nation’s secrets to make their own moralistic judgments on the operation of classified programs further weakening our intelligence services.

Snowden claims he’s prepared for prosecution; however shortly after exposing himself to the Guardian newspaper he left the hotel in Hong Kong and no one knows of his whereabouts. Snowden’s only hope of evading prosecution is to somehow slip into a country that would grant him asylum and doesn’t have an extradition treaty with the U.S.

Snowden proclaimed that exposing the wrong, no matter the personal price, makes it worthwhile; yet when the days comes, and it surely will, that he will face judgment for his actions, he may well see things in a different light. Surely there was another way he might have addressed what he saw as a wrong other than simply releasing classified information.


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