Edward Snowden Might Be Doing More Harm Than Good to Our Civil Liberties


Edward Snowden has created a paradox for American civil liberties by dropping a bombshell in Hong Kong on his quest to expose the NSA. It came in an interview with the South China Morning Post, where Snowden revealed that he actually obtained a job at contracting company Booz Allen Hamilton with the intent of gathering evidence from the NSA to expose the PRISM program. There are two problems that make this crusade a paradox, though.

The first problem is that Snowden must have had some degree of knowledge on the PRISM program prior to his application to Booz Allen. Aside from the interview, virtually no details of Snowden's enlightenment to the program exist. Booz Allen's contracting company for background investigations for candidates, USIS, is already under scrutiny now for discrepancies in Snowden's application.

The second problem, and the biggest factor in the paradox, is what Snowden is actually trying to accomplish in regards to civil liberties. By revealing the intent of being hired to gain evidence, as opposed to a dirty discovery on the job, Snowden has presented himself as a man on a mission. That mission, which has been accomplished, was to reveal to the American people an egregious breach of privacy via PRISM. If the intent is to aid the American people in this way, then why is Snowden asylum-hopping with his evidence?

The New York Times reported that Snowden left the United States with numerous flash drives and laptops containing lists of machines that the NSA has supposedly hacked across the globe. While it is publicly known that Snowden is searching for asylum with countries such as Ecuador and Cuba, he is also taken active steps in proliferating more of the evidence on a global scale.

In the South China Morning Post interview, Snowden stated, "If I have time to go through this information, I would like to make it available to journalists in each country to make their own assessment, independent of my bias, as to whether or not the knowledge of US network operations against their people should be published." If Snowden actually goes through with this, there may be some severe consequences.

Consequences on an international level can have major backlash on the domestic level. The federal government is probably worrying about what the international community will do with the NSA information, especially when it applies to states like China. Much like the Patriot Act in regards to 9/11, Snowden's actions can actually create even tighter oversight from the federal government.

The "Snowden paradox" is that the manner in which civil liberty infringements have been exposed can ultimately create a precedent for future infringements on civil liberties. A rogue analyst traveling the world with a luggage full of classified information is a risk for those on all sides of the debate. Sometimes the best intentions can lead to disastrous results. Fellow whistleblower Julian Assange has stated that Snowden is "safe and healthy" in his transition. Are our civil liberties, though?