Our View A traitor is not a hero

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Posted: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 9:14 am

Eric Snowden is not a hero. He’s a scoundrel, a traitor.

We do not believe he exposed sensitive national security information so the public would know what’s going on inside the National Security Agency. He did it to harm the United States. He did it for publicity. He has achieved both aims.

Snowden is now a man without a country. He’s revered in China, wandering around free in Russia. Where he ends up is anyone’s guess. Maybe Iceland, maybe Ecuador. He seems to have enough money to live on. We can’t imagine he will be able to get a good job wherever he goes. Certainly, nobody will trust him to work in a job that demands secrecy.

Of course, he has a thumb drive containing more U.S. secrets. How much more is unknown, but if Snowden has the information he claims, it could be severely injurious.

Right now, Snowden is a player in a political-economic tontine that the major participants think they can survive. Spying, after all, is routine — business as usual.

Many Americans are outraged that the government would spy randomly on citizens. It’s the same outrage expressed when the country discovered J. Edgar Hoover — king of the FBI for decades – had amassed tons of information on U.S. citizens — most of which was collected surreptitiously and much on hearsay and whims.

Hoover was a bit paranoid about security. There is an ongoing debate whether Hoover was more paranoid for himself or his country. He built the FBI into a fine organization. But he also built in an efficient spy operation.

We fault Snowden because the information he stole from the NSA was shared with other countries. Elements within those countries do not have our best interests at heart.

Snowden’s motives are not pure. He had an alternative means of exposing surveillance — probably unwarranted surveillance — on American citizens: Take his case to Congress. The Senate Intelligence Committee would have listened. He could have picked a House member and arranged to blow the whistle on the intelligence community.

But he didn’t.

We may be righteously indignant that our own government would spy on us just to see what it can find, but reining in this runaway horse could have been done without risking American lives and national security. Congress might have sprung leaks of its own, but Eric Snowden didn’t have to release sensitive information to call attention to NSA activities.

If he had good intentions, he threw them away. He is not a hero.