I just watched an interview with Brian Williams and Edward Snowden.
Is Snowden a hero or villain? I'm curious about what others on atheist nexus think.

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I understand your feelings in this regard, and I don't disagree with them in principle. But there is also the fact that his bosses had repeatedly lied to Congress about the nature of their activities. People from Kerry on down have argued that there were other more legitimate avenues, that he could have stayed home and blown the whistle, but I don't think this claim is realistic. There's no way he would have gotten anywhere if he hadn't completely let the genie out of the bottle. Recent administrations have not been sympathetic to whistle-blowers at all.

Snowden has given several examples of previous whistleblowers with lives destroyed as a result. His point is that the whistleblower programs are nothing but lies. No change can come through that avenue. Not only can the government crush you, it can do it against it's own laws. That sends an even chillier message to anyone contemplating the exposure of misdeeds. I've read several of his interviews. While he would like to come home, he knows (and knew then) it could be the end of his life as an American. He was, and is, willing, to pay that price to advance freedom. How many of us would? How hot does the water have to get before any of us would risk treason to advance freedom?

You can see I'm a supporter of his, but only because he did not release the information in a chaotic manner. His method was part of the message. It's up to us to learn from it.


That's what happens when you blow a whistle by following the rules.

Future, thanks for posting. There are many more people who had similar treatment. At least he wasn't sent to a mental institution for several years as one female operative was.  Snowden obviously was aware of how he would be dealt with, thus the reason he did it his way. 

"... supposed to be protected"  I am interested to see just how many whistleblowers have actually succeeded in producing a positive response from our government.  Has anyone every been believed, protected, and then had their efforts acted on in a positive manner? Has anyone ever been rewarded for their efforts? 

Isn't it possible that Snowden did what he did BECAUSE he loves his country? There's a colossal lie out there (fueled by the same sort of fanatics who spew out religious nonsense) that liberals "hate" America. No one would say that if you criticize your children, that means you hate them, but people say that all the time about your country.

You got that right Berthold. Conservatives are quick to label liberals with the most repulsive labels they can dream up. Have you ever noticed conservative sites often use the words patriot, heritage, heartland, etc?
It's as if they lay claim to everything decent in the USA while the rest of us are scum. Im tired of their bs.

I get what you’re saying here Freethinker, and I don’t think anyone would dispute the fact that Snowden faced a true dilemma. Ultimately I guess this goes to the question whether civil disobedience is ever justified. I would never presume to make a definitive judgment as to whether he was “right” or “wrong” in his actions in any ultimate sense. My devil’s advocate self wants to remind you that if a bunch of people hadn’t broken the law in 1776, we wouldn’t be here debating this. However I’m a Libra, thus I firmly believe in justice, and I’m cursed with the compulsion to see both sides of every question. So I can’t disagree with your contention that a deliberate violation of clearly laid out rules calls for some kind of consequences (“retribution” sounding a bit too religious).


We are “a nation of laws” on an abstract level, but that’s not always perfectly realized in the concrete world. I would love to believe that “all he had to do was expose them,” but no matter how hard I try, I can’t convince myself that he would have had the slightest chance of success taking this path, and I’m sure this consideration played into his calculus for making the decision. He may not have been persecuted, but he sure as hell would have been stifled. Were I in his shoes, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have had the courage to do what he did. And he did sacrifice the perks of a pretty snazzy lifestyle, not unlikely for the rest of his life. Maybe that’s punishment enough?

Maybe some day people will be running around mindlessly chanting "Edward Snowden died for your sins." 

Oh no! I hope people like Peter Boghossian teaches enough of us to bring the tools of professional philosophers to people in a way that millions of us are out there stopping the spread of religious virus. Maybe our nation and the Earth will come back into balance. 

"...If he discovered  that his superiors  were  breaking the law, all he had to do is expose them.'"

That is what he did.  His "superiors" just happened to be the U. S. Government - NSA.

Freethinker31, how would you have done it? 


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