I just watched an interview with Brian Williams and Edward Snowden.
Is Snowden a hero or villain? I'm curious about what others on atheist nexus think.

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I'm not yet convinced that Snowden is authentic. The state of surveillance in this country is shameful, and has near zero potential for doing what we are told it's purpose is, since it gathers far too much communications to be able to do anything proactively wrt terrorism. This system serves purposes, they just have nothing to do with national security. Snowden could be part of the tail that is wagging the dog. It's just too convenient for him to be safely out of arm's reach while America and the rest of the world are being conditioned to the new Orwellian environment.

The first rule of spying is "Don't get caught." When Snowden released his information on the NSA spy program, I watched politicians in this country, and overseas governments both engage in their phony and ever so public hypocritical shock and outrage. Phony in this country because the trashing of the 4th Amendment under the prior administration of Bush the Lesser, with warrantless wiretaps, elicited nothing more than a big yawn. Phony outrage by foreign governments acting like they have no intelligence programs that spy on others (including us).

The reaction all depends on whose ox is being gored.

I personally don't believe he is a villian.  I'm glad he did what he did and I believe in time when the right-wing conservatives and those politicians trying to gain some publicity from the issue stop blowing smoke and start truly looking at the information being distributed they will realize his true intent.  He said he thought it was "the right thing to do for my country".  I agree with him. 

If every person with a smart phone stopped and really thought about how the federal government has the technology to turn that phone into something whereby they can actually assess the way we think about private things, a microphone, camera, locator, etc., I can't help thinking they would want that power and capability limited and more transparent.  These actions are not futuristic, something to only be seen in a movie.  They are happening now and until Edward Snowden did what he did the average citizen did not know the capability and the action of our own government. 

Perhaps Edward Snowden's action just put the brakes on the runaway NSA's snooping long enough for the American people to decide just how much of it they should be allowed to do on the average American.  The average person had nothing to do with passing The Patriot Act, and many are still not aware of its far-reaching ability to affect their private lives. In my opinion, The Patriot Act should be the first thing to go, then the ugliness and control it allows our government over the average citizen will begin to diminish. 

I keep asking myself:  If Edward Snowden had not released the information he did, how long do you think the NSA would have continued their various programs of gathering personal data of us, and would it have gotten worse? Would my government have reached a point where I would be watched, tracked, and controlled every moment of my life?   

That's it Barbara.  The government has no right to collect its citizens information to keep for some later purpose.

I don't know how pure Snowdens motives are but he has some valid points.

Our constitution isn't worth anything if we lose the right to unreasonable search and seizure.  They are over reaching.  It's bullshit and everyone in the USA should be mad as hell. I know I am.

 

BarbaraSTAX may be correct here. I have done and been many things in my lifetime, and from strictly a political viewpoint, I fear that if everything about me was tracked and watched and recorded, that the end result would be a false picture. This shows that surveillance can get out of hand and not be reliable. If this much is true, then Snowden probably did a good thing.

The fact that Snowden has not wholesale released his information keeps him from being a villain. Yes, what he did was illegal. He was well aware that this information was to remain secret. Unfortunately, as I understand it, being a legitimate whistle blower is a pipe dream. There are several really good examples of whistleblowers with their lives destroyed. It's an impossible position to be in, thinking one can make changes from inside. Snowden claims his motivation is to better the country by exposing the illegal activity of the US intelligence services and thus generate debate regarding privacy rights, If so, he had no choice but to go public and blackmail the government into making changes. I don't bestow genius honors on him but he's pretty sharp. He still seems to have a few cards to play in this game. I wonder if he can do that in a way that continues to improve the quality of this debate.

His actions are the only antidote to the black box the government has built, designed to keep what they do hidden from view. 

I don't know what should be done with him. Maybe it's best for all of us if we give him a million dollars, return his passport and let him move to South America. He's been honorable enough so far. He knew the potential price he might pay. Maybe after another three presidents or so have passed, we can revisit the issue of his living conditions. If he decides to do something nasty, we'll just drone him.

(With the exception of the first sentence, that entire last paragraph is tongue in cheek).

Unfortunately, that black box is Pandora's Box. There's no closing it once it has been opened. Who would believe it now if we were told that the government changed its mind, and decided to dismantle the heavily veiled thing that is thoroughly entrenched into virtually every communication device and system? It never should have happened in the first place.

I may be alone  on my thinking here  but  I feel Snowden  is a traitor.....What right  does  anyone with security clearance who took an oath to uphold the safeguards  of our  country betray  said  country because  he  found something  he did not  agree with....There are  other  ways  to  whistle blow which  would be legal...The part  that bothers  me  the most is that  he  took  sensitive  information  that  could be  detrimental to our  country  if  it got  into the wrong hands....The only  reason  the NSA is  accumulating  data  on us  is because  of 9/11.......Granted  they may have  overstepped  here  but their intentions  are  honorable....We all live  in a great country and  we seem  to take  a lot  for  granted  since  we feel safe more or less and  forget  a lot  of it is due  to our  military  intelligence and  all the things  done  behind  the scenes  while  we  go on with our  lives happy as can be.....  Freedom is not  Free...remember  that.. With all the scary  people  out there , especially  in the middle east...WE  all should  should  be grateful  for  our  military  and  intelligent  services.....If that means  collecting  personal data   for an  easy  night  sleep, then  they can  collect  all they want from me...I have nothing  to hide....Can you all say the same?..Just saying.....

The government has, and is, collecting any information they want. From you and everyone else they please. They don't care if they have your permission. That's what pisses me off.
They'll do as they please regardless.

A good many of us do care Tom. I agree with everything you wrote. The government has been bought by the 1% and will do whatever they please.
Snowden is a hero to many people. But I'm afraid he will walk a long, hard, road before he is recognized for the sacrifice he has made. If he ever is.

The government has collected way too much information for it to be valid in a "now" moment. It would have to become whatever they want it to be. Using myself as an example, I have been many things to many people, but a lot of this was a political ploy. That makes it no longer valid today. If you are a theist, religion becomes your identification and in todays world this takes it right back into possible political statements. This is what is scary! Information again becomes whatever they want it to be.

I hope  you  are right  k.h.....So far  I am not convinced....We may never know  if  what  Snowden  leaked comes  back  to haunt us  later.... 

Most of the replies prior to this one are from people who know little, if anything, about America's foreign policy.

Do they know how many democratically elected governments America's CIA has overthrown, many by violent means?

Sure, Western Europe alone would not have defeated Hitler's military. He committed national suicide when he ordered the invasion of the Soviet Union.

Did America's helping to defeat Hitler entitle our CIA, in 1953, to overthrow the elected government in Iran because Iran wanted an English oil company to stop treating its Iranian employees as serfs?

Does anyone here know how many more democratically-elected governments America overthrew?

Does anyone here care?

In short, American foreign policy since WW2 has been on a collision course with Americans' civil liberties.

The events of 9/11 were a long-delayed payback.

Those who rule America have betrayed all of us and Ed Snowden deserves the highest civilian award a government of, by, and for the people can confer.

Instead, a government of, by, and for the 1% will do as it has done to other whistleblowers: destroy his career and/or imprison him.

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