“Sometimes the good guys gotta do bad things to make the bad guys pay.” (Macht, 2012)
First and foremost, Edward Snowden, no matter what the intentions, broke the law. Not only did he break his oath, the Oath of Office, or appointment affidavit, which he took like all other federal government employees but he also broke the U.S. Code, in particular “Disclosure of classified information” (U.S. Code)(2013)
However there are always many different sides to the debate.
Words from the President:
Within the interview ran by Charlie Rose the president of the United States, Barack Obama, explains in his own words his view on the processes of NSA in relation to the development of the documents provided by Edward Snowden.
“We don’t have to sacrifice our freedom in order to achieve security.” (Rose, 2014) He puts forth the idea that with certain “trade-offs” we are able to achieve balance of the two. He states unequivocally that the NSA cannot listen to conversations without a warrant provided by the Fisa due to probable cause by rule and law. This is applicable to only Americans, what about the rest of the citizens of the world.
This contradicts a statement by Edward Snowden, “I, sitting at my desk, ” said Snowden, could “wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge or even the president, if I had a personal email,” (Greenwald, 2013) in which outlines that government officials had the opportunity to do so.
My personal opinion is invalid in the matter as I have not acquired enough information to qualify a response. However some notable things to point out is that in terms of whether he did a bad thing, besides the fact he intentionally broke the law, are to be considered. There was other ways in which he was able to disclose the information besides to a journalist. He had the ability to officially disclose it to the proper authorities. However his intentions were to never leak the information to a foreign government, or to a specific group in general that may use the information that could compromise the United States. Instead his actions were aimed at informing the general public as a whole in matters he believed should not be privatised by the government. He wanted to ensure that the information would not be hidden from the public if he went through the appropriate channels.
The idea of whether his actions were ethical or unethical is up to further debate. Is it ethical to break the law, to break an oath, to intentionally go against company policy? Most would say no, so how is it different in this case. My argument is with the structure that he is within. Was the NSA itself acting ethically, and if not, for those working for them are their jobs in themselves and the rules that govern it ethical? Is an action considered acceptable if it contradicts an unacceptable rule?
As to whether he should continue to be pursued by government courts, in the eyes of the U.S. government he has still broken the law. His return with immunity is what I would consider to be public opinion and if he was granted such would mean that the government would have to concede that the NSA was acting against regulation.
Macht, G. (Actor). (2012, April 3). Suits. Dogfight [Television program] [Transcript]. Orlando, United States: USA Network. Retrieved from http://www.usanetwork.com/suits/episodes/12-12
Rose C. (2013, June 17). Charlie Rose interview at the Whitehouse [Video file]. Retrieved from: http://www.charlierose.com/watch/60230424
Greenwald, Glenn. (July 31). XKeyscore: NSA tool collects nearly everything a user does on the internet [Web blog post]. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jul/31/nsa-top-secret-program-online-data
The United States Code. (2013). Disclosure of classified information (Title 18. Part I, Chapter 37, Section 798). Washington, D.C, United States: U.S. Code.