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Whistleblowers are some of the most important people to have in a democracy. They provide information that the government doesn’t want to get out, while this could be dangerous in the case of Edward Snowden he released information that was valuable to the citizens of the united states. Snowden is not the first person to do something like this and has previously stated he was inspired by Daniel Ellsberg who leaked pentagon papers in the 1970’s. Even though he’s wanted by the government to some people Snowden is a hero.
Edward Snowden who was born in North Carolina but later mover to Massachusetts had dropped out of of high school but was no degenerate. A bad case of mononucleosis kept him out of school for 9 months so instead of falling behind he decided that he would drop out. After dropping out he began studying computers at Anne Arundel Community College which was located in Maryland. His father was quoted saying “We always considered Ed the smartest one in the family.” and this was clear when Edward scored a 145 on two different IQ tests. He later enlisted into the special forces because he wanted to learn new languages, but never made it out of basic because he either broke both legs or washed out because of shin splints, it depends on who you ask. After this he was a security guard at a college in maryland that had ties to the NSA. After this he landed a job with the C.I.A.(Central Intelligence Agency) but quit after being suspected of attempting to break into classified files. While still with the C.I.A. he was on a mission in Switzerland where he first discovered corruption in the Government. This is where he first wanted to become a whistleblower but with Obama being soon elected he was optimistic about the changes he was going to make. After working for the C.I.A. for some time he moved to a private IT company where he worked as a contractor and would later work in a few offices for the N.S.A. this is where he notices a breach in security and got his hands on the classified information that he would leak.
The definition of a hero is someone who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. When he was younger, saw sergeant Frank Ford reveal the information about the war in Iraq he thought of him as a hero for being honest, and letting the people know what was really going on in Iraq. Even though Ford was once Snowden’s hero Snowden would make a bigger impact than Ford. Sowden and Ford are not the only whistleblowers who have made themselves public. Manning had leaked hundreds of documents that had to do with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Before any of them Ellsberg had leaked a ton of information in the early seventies. Nixon’s administration alienated Ellsberg much like Obama’s administration has done to Snowden but now Ellsberg is considered a hero. Now Snowden is considered the hero to some people but a lot of people within the government or who listen to the government would disagree.
He has inspired many other anonymous leaks from within the U.S. Government. Snowden receives credit for most of these but he has said that many leaks come from another source or other sources. The U.S. government has made it clear that they know about the the “copycats” when a representative, Adam Schiff who is a member of the House Intelligence Committee claiming that it is a big concern of theirs. Schiff also said “The degree that people have been lionizing Snowden, it encourages people to make a name for themselves by leaking” which is true. Even Some Government officials have publicly claimed that they went too far. Though many people think the Government was in the wrong for so intensely tracking “suspected terrorist” it makes sense for the Government to do that because some 9/11 hijackers were tracked but then nothing was done about them. Officials say that this could have put the country in more danger by showing potential terrorist how the government tracks them it allows them to bypass those methods. Schiff also claimed that the Government should be more careful with who gets access to what by saying Snowden should have never had access in the first place. The Pentagon has approved as many as 3.2 million people access to highly classified information from 2006 to 2011 (CNN).
After fleeing the country Snowden got ahold of journalists and offered them an “unprecedented scoop”(PBS). Even though the two journalists had received the documents it was not until they were on a plane and out of the country when they felt safe to open them and look at the things Snowden had shared. Greenwald, one of the journalists was quoted saying ” I didn’t sleep one second for the next 16 hours because the adrenaline made that impossible”. He said that he understood that this would be a story like he’d never written before and one that people would talk about for decades. The journalists were given thousands of documents that showed what the Obama administration had been doing to regular citizens who had no criminal records and were not suspected terrorists. They were simply eavesdropping on regular citizens who had not done anything wrong. Some of the eavesdropping was justified but a surprising amount was not. Snowden’s leaks shed a serious amount of light on this problem and it led to a two part series on Frontline that dove into the topic from after 9/11 all the way to when things were leaked by Snowden. This series went even further than Snowden when they had revealed the extent that the government went to to keep these secrets hidden. It was during this time where Snowden had revealed that the worst of the wiretapping and eavesdropping had come from when Bush was president.
Snowden still cares about America though saying that he would like to return one day and “I told the government I’d volunteer for prison, as long as it served the right purpose,” he says “I care more about the country than what happens to me. But we can’t allow the law to become a political weapon or agree to scare people away from standing up for their rights, no matter how good the deal. I’m not going to be part of that.” (Wired). These statements show his true character and that he really does care about America. Snowden claimed that he had tried to leave clues for the N.S.A. to show him what documents were actually copied and which ones were just looked at. Despite these efforts the N.S.A. had missed the clues and reported that he took over a million documents when in reality he on took a few thousand. Snowden sounded disappointed when speaking on the fact that the government had missed his clues because he had thought that they were obvious. Sponsors from both major political parties can agree that this has shown that the U.S. government needs to stop their mass surveillance for clear reasons. This was such a big deal that President Obama himself as well as congress have both publicly talked about the issue and the Supreme Court has hinted at making a decision about the government’s use of unwarranted surveillance. This was never Snowden’s intention he had just wanted to share what the government was doing because he felt that it was unjust. Despite the efforts by the government to make Snowden out to be the bad guy more than half the population agrees with what he did. Many government officials have spoken on this but not in the favor of snowden, N.S.A. director Keith Alexander claimed that the russian government had manipulated him while the secretary of state called him a coward and a traitor.
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