Edward Snowden is being called a lot of things right now. A heroic whistle-blower. A betrayer of his country. A modern-day Daniel Ellsberg. That last one — likening him to the famous leaker of the Pentagon Papers who is credited with helping turn public opinion against the Vietnam War — may be the most spot-on, because the Snowden and Ellsberg cases raise the same question: Where is the line between principled whistle-blowing and disloyal leaking?
Snowden, a former CIA staffer, released bombshell revelations about vast National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance because, he said, “the public needs to decide whether these programs and policies are right or wrong.” In a stunning move, Snowden outed himself, declaring: “I am not going to hide.” (He is, however, apparently seeking political asylum to escape prosecution.)
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