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Columns

July 6, 2013

Snowden is neither hero nor traitor

(Continued)

 
But with the NSA surveillance being conducted under the auspices of Congress and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, it’s debatable whether Snowden has a winning argument. The surveillance isn’t necessarily unconstitutional, nor is it wholly unpopular; a Pew-Washington Post survey in June found that 56 percent of Americans support it.
 
But does Snowden deserve the gallows, as suggested by Donald Trump? Snowden appears to have acted out of sincere concern for his country, like Ellsberg — as opposed to complete scoundrels like ex-CIA moles Robert Hanssen and Jonathan Pollard— so the death penalty, to me, seems excessive.
 
The irony is that Snowden, who in 2009 condemned WikiLeaks for exposing a covert program targeting Iran’s nuclear research, is now turning to Assange for help. It’s also hard to reconcile Snowden’s claim that he doesn’t “want to live in a society that does these sort of things” with his flight to China and later Russia — two countries with massive domestic spying programs used routinely to silence dissenters.
 
But perhaps it isn’t all that ironic that Assange and Snowden would become allies. Both appear to be rigid, unyielding ideologues who believe all information should be public, period, and all searches are unreasonable, period. Both seem to think that those who disagree with them are not only wrong, but deserve to die. And neither man is the type of person I’d trust with information that could put others in harm’s way.
 
JUSTIN VERNOLD is a copy editor for The Daily Star. Contact him at jvernold@thedailystar.com.

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