Rushing to Judge Snowden

Is Snowden a Hero? / SnowdenHK: 香港聲援斯諾登遊行 Hong...
Hong Kong Rally to Support Edward Snowden (Photo credit: See-ming Lee 李思明 SML)

In the matter of self-proclaimed cyber libertarian Edward Snowden, we have a remarkable story that continues to unfold, and the longer it does so, the more questions that arise.

But let us be clear: anyone crowning Snowden either a hero or a traitor at this point is doing so on incomplete information, and is probably doing so based more on his or her political inclinations than on a thoughtful assessment of the facts. That would be alright, except that it shrouds the need for journalists, government, and all of us to continue to dig into this story to understand the whole truth.

It is possible to make a case that regardless of the final outcome, Snowden has made a contribution to liberty in America by making a story out of the erosion of civil liberties in this country. That may be true.

But in order to assess Snowden and his legacy, in order to decide if he is a hero or a traitor, we must have a clearer idea of how important his contributions really are, and we must balance that against any collateral damage he has done (intentionally or otherwise) to the interests of the nation.  If, in the end, his contributions are indeed deemed greater, then he deserves to be deemed a hero. At a time where investigations have just begun and the story continues to unfold, we are a long way from knowing whether that is the case.

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Author: David Wolf

An adviser to corporations and organizations on strategy, communications, and public affairs, David Wolf has been working and living in Beijing since 1995, and now divides his time between China and California. He also serves as a policy and industry analyst focused on innovative and creative industries, a futurist, and an amateur historian.

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