Toobin: Edward Snowden, the N.S.A. Leaker, Is No Hero
At The New Yorker, Jeffrey Toobin has a must-read piece on NSA leaker Edward Snowden and the misguided attempt to make him into a “hero:” Edward Snowden, the N.S.A. Leaker, Is No Hero.
Edward Snowden, a twenty-nine-year-old former C.I.A. employee and current government contractor, has leaked news of National Security Agency programs that collect vast amounts of information about the telephone calls made by millions of Americans, as well as e-mails and other files of foreign targets and their American connections. For this, some, including my colleague John Cassidy, are hailing him as a hero and a whistle-blower. He is neither. He is, rather, a grandiose narcissist who deserves to be in prison.
I’ve posted several articles about Snowden’s choice of Hong Kong as a sanctuary; it’s one of the real problematic aspects of the case, and Toobin nails the reason why:
Snowden fled to Hong Kong when he knew publication of his leaks was imminent. In his interview, he said he went there because “they have a spirited commitment to free speech and the right of political dissent.” This may be true, in some limited way, but the overriding fact is that Hong Kong is part of China—which is, as Snowden knows, a stalwart adversary of the United States in intelligence matters. (Evan Osnos has more on that.) Snowden is now at the mercy of the Chinese leaders who run Hong Kong. As a result, all of Snowden’s secrets may wind up in the hands of the Chinese government—which has no commitment at all to free speech or the right to political dissent. And that makes Snowden a hero?