This essay was for my Global Journalism class. The assignment was to present a standpoint against granting Snowden whistleblower status. I chose to approach Snowden’s actions through the eyes of the government in terms of “national security”.
Edward Snowden’s actions were rash and unwarranted. After leaking highly confidential government information to a foreign nation for the world to see, it would be appropriate to label him as what he is: a traitor. His refusal to return the documents while seeking asylum around the globe has indicated a strong anti-American sentiment. While Snowden hasn’t committed any acts of terror, the results of his actions might be even more catastrophic. By releasing documents to various “trustworthy journalists” for distribution at will, Snowden has created a security issue. Information about these documents can be leaked at any time. The government is already monitoring its media output with a new “D-notice” system, alerting editors to the release of “intelligence that might damage security.”
The damage caused by Snowden is “profound,” according to US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. The leaked documents contained “critical foreign intelligence collection sources, including some shared with us by valued partners.” Snowden’s stolen information contains military intelligence that if released, can fall into the hands of nearly anyone. As a result, threats of attack and social unrest lay as the foremost issues facing the US.
Snowden’s actions have also damaged U.S. diplomatic relations with allies such as Germany, whose citizens revere him as a hero after he exposed evidence of U.S. cyber-spying on Chancellor Angela Merkel. President Obama’s promise to “curb spying” on foreign allies and pass a “no spying” agreement with Germany has significantly broken the diplomatic confidence between the two nations and made the U.S. appear even weaker. Some of the leaked documents have compromised the actions of our military and diplomatic facilities in Germany and around the world. From this point on, the international community will analyze any diplomatic efforts by the United States with a great deal of scrutiny.
The Nobel Committee has added further insult to the injury, with two Norwegian politicians nominating Edward Snowden for the revered Peace Prize. The process of revealing nominees usually takes five decades, according to TIME Magazine. The Nobel Committee has really made a strong political statement by nominating Snowden’s name so early, and at the risk of U.S. security. (Either that, or they can tell the future) Obama’s credibility has been further threatened by this Peace Prize nomination, as he was a recipient of the award in 2009. By suggesting that he is just as influential and progressive as the President of the United States, the Nobel Community gives Snowden credibility and most importantly of all: a moral basis for his actions. The two politicians who made the nomination did so under the basis that Snowden “made the world a safer place.” In the eyes of the United States government, this could not be more false.
As a former member of the CIA and NSA, Edward Snowden is fully aware of the consequences of his leaks. He claims innocence, yet committed a massive crime against the American people by sacrificing their security under the guise of “freedom”. Snowden has exposed the severity of the issue to the United States government, claiming “government officials have said that they would love to put a bullet in my head…” At the risk of making American citizens’ lives more vulnerable to enemies, this punishment for treason might not seem so unreasonable.