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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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? 

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.

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? 

He did expose them Freethinker. In the safest way, for him, that he could.
I have no doubt he would have been persecuted and prosecuted had he attempted to go about it any other way.
He gave up everything he knows, family, friends, and country, to bring this scandal to the attention of the american people.
I'm sure he would be sitting in a jail cell now if he had tried to go through the proper channels.

Yes, I love my country and, no, I don't think I would want to live in another one. I live in Military City USA and I can't imagine our city being attacked by terorists. Yes, I do expect my government to protect my freedoms, and one of my freedoms guaranteed by law is that my government will not spy on me.

I treasure all the freedom and rights I have as a citizen. I do not want my government to pick and choose which ones they can abuse in the name of protecting others. I will not blindly assume The Government is protecting me from the big bad terrorists so they can do whatever they want to accomplish it.

The reality is ‘The Government’ and our country is made up of human beings and they are  not all honest and trustworthy. Many are driven by greed, a desire to control, and have power in whatever form they can get it. They are willing to go to whatever lengths they need to protect themselves from exposure. 

Whistleblowers definitely expose those actions.  Whistleblowers have been around for years and have been making public in various ways those acts which constitute corruption, waste, and deceit. If you review the following list, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_whistleblowers you will note that being a whistleblower is not for the faint of heart and it certainly helps to have a lawyer and financial backing because before the ‘The Government’ accepts your information you will be thoroughly investigated, interrogated, and possibly prosecuted. Especially if you are exposing The Government. (Yes, I know some people doubt the accuracy of Wikipedia, but, for sake of argument let's assume some of the information is correct.)

Ask yourself:  “Would I be willing to give up everything I have and treasure to be persecuted for something I know is the right thing to do? If I was willing to do it, would I seek a way of doing it that would benefit my fellow countryman and protect my life? Do I have the emotional/mental stamina and financial resources to hire an attorney to fight The Government for me until my information is considered truthful and accurate? Would I trust ‘The Government’ to believe me, protect me, protect my job, not persecute me, not put me in jail, not take my home, destroy my family, and – would ‘The Government’ thank me and reward me for doing good for The Country?” 

Given the list of legislation already in place http://www.whistleblowers.org/index.php?option=com_content&task...  I wouldn’t have thought we would need an organization dedicated to helping to protect whistleblowers. However, there is one and former whistleblowers are part of it: http://www.whistleblowers.org/

I believe Edward Snowden did his homework. He more than likely knew how Thomas Andrew Drake and Thomas Tamm along with others had been treated. He must have known what his future would look like long before he ever transferred one single file, and known full well there is no way he would have ever drawn a breath outside of prison again had he been in the U.S. when the information was released.

Without Edward Snowden doing what he did the NSA would be scooping up information on U.S. citizens as they have been doing for many years – wait, maybe they are still doing it in some way or another and that will take another whistleblower in the future.

Maybe we don’t have to throw rose petals at Edward Snowden, but, can we at least admit he did some good for the people of the U.S.? His method might be in question - surely not his intent.  I'm still waiting for accurate information on any damage done by the information he has released - instead of all the fearmongering propaganda of right wing hawks via FOX News..

Is one person doing what he thinks is right, and doing it with good intentions, going to be a threat to the entire country?  Surely truth can't be our downfall. 

I perceive Edward Snowden as a hero, and one I admire and respect. Those who recognized the violation of rights of citizens and said nothing is not my notion of a loyal citizen. I disagree with Eleanor Holmes Norton.

 

Freethinker31, the point of disagreement is to express the rationale of one's position. As long as we can refrain from name calling, blaming, accusing each other, and keep it focused on the points of disagreement and agreement, we will be fine and benefit by the discourse. 

I fell in love with my country as a vey small child listening to my uncle, who was a superior court judge. He had me read the documents, discussed them with me. Took me on a trip to Washington, D.C. when I was 14 years old, with his family when he had to go on business. I sat in on a supreme court event and listened to a Senate debate. 

"We are a nation of law, not of men" he intoned and I thought all citizens had the rite to vote and to express their points of view. 

When I was 37 I went to him to ask why the courts and law enforcement had not protected my rights as a citizen (an ugly family violence thing). He pounded on his desk and told me that is what is wrong with our country, "Women and niggers got the vote" and "Women who have control over their own bodies are whores." "Only land-owners should have the vote!" 

My naive beliefs were further shattered as I looked up his records as a judge and found he was a sexist and a racist in his court decisions, and he was not held accountable. I later learned that he refused to award alimony to any woman who left her husband. She had to be strong enough to take discipline. He also thought fathers had a right and responsibility to whip their children. 

Of course, I read Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky and other critiques of a republic, and of civil law, and of national and international law. 

When a crime has been committed, even if it is a man beating his wife and children, and no one speaks up, that is a crime against humanity. Silence solved no interpersonal problems, nor does it solve national problems. Snowden observed criminal activity and he spoke up about it, knowing full well he would forfeit his rights as a citizen.

Snowdon tried to go up the chain of command and wanted to see mistakes confronted. What does one do when such events happen? Be silent? Ignore the events? Make copies of revealing documents?  Put his reputation and future on the line? 

What would you do? 

Barbara, this is extremely well written and informative. You have a way with words.

 k.h. ky , I agree, Barbara is a fine writer and interesting to read. 

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