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.