Edward Snowden: Patriot or Traitor?

Edward Snowdon is a Former NSA contractor and current whistle-blower. After dropping out of high school at the age of 15, he went on to become an employee of the Central intelligence Agency and contractor for the United States government. Prior to the leak taking place, Snowden worked as a systems analyst, setting up new computer systems, focusing on hardware and software practices which would help increase the efficiency of computer systems in businesses and the NSA. However, in May 2013, Snowden traveled to Hong Kong to leak government classified information. He revealed classified information which revealed global surveillance programs that even to this day are still used to store personal data.

His background in computers made it possible for him to access those documents within the rights of his workplace. He saw information that was classified and showed the extent of high quality surveillance that was being carried out by the National Security Agency. It was later confirmed that the NSA had been spying on the American people. Without going through proper procedure such as obtaining court warrant the NSA had access to email, phone and internet data. The decision to spy on millions of Americans who had no connection to acts of terrorism and did not pose a threat to national security. Instead, the American citizens were left defenseless, while the NSA abused their power to gain access to phone records and private information that should be protected within our rights as citizens.

These documents went onto confirm the growing suspicion that we, the people have about our private information being leaked. Snowden’s act of whistle blowing should not be a punishment. Instead, he should be praised for his patriotism. Releasing this information allowed the citizens of America to see what the NSA were doing behind their backs. However, not everyone supports Snowden’s act of whistle-blowing. The document he leaked contained information about Foreign Intelligence operations that were being carried out. A house report stated “caused a tremendous damage to national security”. Suspicions can be raised as to whether Snowden had expressed his concerns to officials in the NSA before going public with the leak.

The former director of the NSA, Micheal Hayden, is another individual who is against the presidential pardon stating that Snowden should “face the full force of the law”. Stewart Barker of the NSA also expressed his concern for Snowden and argued that his leak was a breach of United States national interests. In my opinion, Snowden’s decision to pull the plug on the National Security agency was the right choice. Their complete disregard for data protection and abuse of power within the realms of national security, they have showed the American citizens their true colors. Despite the NSA’s strong desire to prevent Snowden from being pardoned. A campaign was set up to help Snowden in his efforts to clear his name.

Whistle-blowing website Wiki Leaks showed their willingness to help Snowden get asylum after the cancellation of his passport by the U.S. WikiLeaks decision to have legal researcher and journalist, Sarah Harrison accompany him while he was still being perused by the United States Government. His decision to join hand with WikiLeaks gave him the opportunity to go to other countries and seek asylum. Without Harrison, Snowden would not have been able to move as freely as he did throughout the countries. The reason for this is that he was in danger of being stopped and questioned by other representatives and with the help of WikiLeaks he was able to prevent that from happening.

Snowden’s campaign amassed a huge following, with people supporting the whistle-blower for letting not just America know, but the entire planet know of the NSA’s failure to uphold and protect their information which was being used against Americans because they were unaware of the surveillance taking place. A campaign to have Snowden pardoned by the President reached more than 1 million signatures in support of the United States most infamous whistle-blower. His decision to join the social media site Twitter, further demonstrates his strong belief in the freedom of speech. Within 30 minutes of joining the site, Snowed had already gained more than 67,000 followers.

Although Snowden was able to reach a large following within the short span of thirty minutes. This subject still divides a nation. There are people who argue that what Snowden did was in the best interest for the American people who were oblivious to the matter at hand. On the other hand, there are also people who want Snowden to face the legal system and pay for the crimes he had committed.

Credit : Survey taken by Times poll

The results taken from a TIME poll suggested that fifty-four percent of people said that Edward Snowden had made the right decision in releasing government information. Whereas, 30 percent disagreed at the idea of Snowden’s act to leak information was wrong, due to the constant fear of terror attacks which some citizens feared due to Snowden leaking classified information which could have been of used against America. This caused fear in the eyes of the public which has led to some people asking Snowden to face retribution for his crimes.

Credit: Survey taken by the TIMES poll

On the other hand, in another survey conducted by Time, 50 percent of Americans still believe that he should be face a court of law for the crimes that he committed. However, 28 percent said that he should not be prosecuted. There is a constant divide on whether Snowden should be exonerated.

I feel that Snowden’s decision to leak government information was the right one. Without Snowden the American citizen’s would have continued to use their phones, laptops and emails without knowing the underlying result of mass surveillance which was being carried out under their noses. We should thank Snowden for alerting everyone about the government’s misuse of the internet and using it to actively store and analyse data that they should not have had access to in the first place.


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