Snowden exposed fundamental government crime. Period.

Shamai Lei­bowitz, a con­vict­ed and jailed FBI whistle­blow­er, argues in a Guardian essay that the U.S. government’s vin­dic­tive war on leak­ers of con­science is back­fir­ing. It’s a good piece, worth read­ing.

How­ev­er, in the case of Edward Snow­den, per­son­al con­sid­er­a­tions about him are just as irrel­e­vant as cita­tions of the U.S. government’s sup­posed need for secre­cy.

Even in a democ­ra­cy cer­tain infor­ma­tion needs to remain secret, and those with access to that infor­ma­tion must hon­or their oblig­a­tion to safe­guard it. But Snow­den and oth­er whistle­blow­ers have not leaked secrets for their own ben­e­fit or enrich­ment; rather, they sac­ri­ficed the com­fort of their lives to expose lies, fraud, human rights abus­es, and uncon­sti­tu­tion­al­i­ty.

Our gov­ern­ment didn’t keep “cer­tain infor­ma­tion” secret. Our gov­ern­ment went insane with secre­cy. It kept all the infor­ma­tion secret. It vio­lat­ed core prin­ci­ples of our Con­sti­tu­tion and kept that secret, demon­strat­ing fun­da­men­tal moral rot all the way to the top.

Edward Snow­den saw this and exposed it. His action requires no jus­ti­fi­ca­tion beyond that, and cer­tain­ly no per­son­al jus­ti­fi­ca­tion. If he had done it anony­mous­ly and paid no per­son­al price, it wouldn’t make his rev­e­la­tions any less valu­able. If he goes on to write a book about it and make a lot of mon­ey, his per­son­al gain won’t change the soci­etal impor­tance of what he did.

It’s not about Edward Snow­den at all. It’s about the inher­ent crim­i­nal­i­ty of secret gov­ern­ment.

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