Monday, June 24, 2013


I guess we don't yet know (as of this writing) where Edward Snowden is headed. Nor have I read a lot of the reports about his personal background, which I find mostly irrelevant. Also, I have decidedly mixed feelings about the whole affair. I think it's good that we know more about what our government has been doing than we did before his revelations. It raises, among other things, a fundamental question: is "transparency" possible in an "open" society? Where do the needs for security cross the line between that and the right of privacy? On the other hand, there's no doubt the guy did harm, and broke the law. Motives? Unclear. (The latest news that he took his private-contractor job specifically to steal info raises even more doubt about his "heroic" status.) I don't think he's a latter-day Daniel Ellsberg.

But the thing I'm pondering at the moment is, what if he ends up in Cuba, or Russia, or Ecuador? It would inform my perception of his motives, for one thing. For another, and maybe most importantly, it would remove the claim that he's some sort of hero, doing what he believed to be right.

Because -- and I have no idea if I'd have the bravery, myself -- if he claims to be doing the right thing, in the name of patriotism or morality, then shouldn't he be willing to take the consequences? Stand trial, speak out, in a court of law, for what he believes? Rather than running to countries that are anything but allies?

Others have.

(And others see that question differently.)

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