Edward Snowden and the NSA Leaks
Part 1: Objective Summary
On June 6th of 2013 The Guardian reported on a classified U.S. surveillance network called PRISM. This information was given to them by former Booz Allen Hamilton employee Edward Snowden. Snowden obtained this information by secretly gathering files and documents regarding the program and others while working for the government contracted Booz Allen Hamilton in Hawaii. On May 20 2013, Snowden had traveled to Hong Kong to meet with Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, journalists for The Guardian, in order to turn over NSA documents revealing various U.S. surveillance programs and tactics that are used on their citizens and on citizens in other countries. Snowden had also given the journalists the right to reveal his identity through an interview they had conducted with him, saying that his sole reason for leaking the documents was “to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them” (qtd in Greenwald, Glenn, Ewen MacAskill, and Laura Poitras). Snowden’s identity was revealed four days after the initial leak, and the United States considered the act of transferring classified surveillance information to a foreign source treason, and wished to prosecute Snowden under the espionage act. To avoid prosecution from the United States, Snowden flew to Moscow Russia on June 23 of 2013 after his passport was revoked by the US, seeking asylum. Passport revoked, Russia granted Snowden one year renewable asylum on August 1 to protect him from United States law. Snowden knew he would be risking his life
Views on the constitutionality of the NSA’s bulk data collection are very diverse, and two court rulings on that topic have been split on whether or not the collection is constitutional. President Barack Obama however defended the data collection just a day after PRISM was leaked, saying "the right balance had been struck between security and privacy” (qtd in Gidda). The United wish to carry forth with Snowden’s case regarding the leaked records but are unable to because of his asylum in Russia. Currently Snowden resides at an undisclosed location in Moscow Russia and meets with Russian officials and other world organizations as a guest speaker. The US continues to seek extradition, but until then Snowden is relatively safe in Russia.
Part 2: Comparison of Opinions
On a leak of this scale there is sure to be a multitude of opinions on the issue, which there are. The New Yorker in itself has two articles written by their staff writers posing two completely different viewpoints; Jeffrey Toobin claiming “Edward Snowden is No Hero”, while John Cassidy makes a case for “Why Snowden is a Hero”. In Toobin’s argument against Snowden he cites examples that Snowden has revealed information that has put others’ lives in risk that would have otherwise been protected which immediately in itself warrants prosecution. Along with this Cassidy goes on to talk about the data collection as a necessary evil and that Snowden had no right to disrupt a government run system. “If he had a problem with how things were run he needed to take it up with someone at Booz Allen before taking it upon himself to release information to the public” (Cassidy) The other end of this opinion falls to Jeffery Toobin who claims that Snowden did this for the benefit of the country and should be praised. Toobin says that in this time in American society it takes someone brave enough to disrupt the current to see something for what it truly is and call them out on it, despite the consequences. Toobin believes that any time a government becomes unjust it is the people of America’s duty to do something about it, and that is what Snowden did.
The issue of Edward Snowden and the NSA is not concentrated to a small area, it is a global debate and a national debate. Two writers, one from The Washington Post, and the other from the Seattle Times hold very different views...
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