First, there was Daniel Ellsberg, who in 1971 leaked one of the most humiliating secrets of American history: the atrocities of American armed forces throughout Vietnam War as compiled in Pentagon Papers. This triggered a huge shake-up among the entire nation, some of whom hailed him as a ‘hero’, others of whom rendered him a ‘traitor’.
Nearly 4 decades afterwards – as though in karmic pattern – United States again suffered another gargantuan diplomatic blow when Bradley Manning, a US Army soldier, provided confidential details about the mishandling and reiterative abuses, persecution, and violence the American military had conducted throughout Iraq War to Wikileaks. The whole world nearly watched in awe when Manning was subsequently arrested, subject to harsh torture from the legal authorities – he was, and still is, imprisoned in a windowless cell, fully naked, for 23 hours a day.
Only a few days prior, as history repeats itself, the world’s current superpower again faced another mortification when an NSA subcontractor, a 29-year-old freshman-looking high-paid Edward Snowden, leaked NSA’s newest surveillance program to The Guardian and The Washington Post, which according to Snowden, ‘might possibly damage the quintessence of freedom of expression to the whole world’.
PRISM, as it is later known, is NSA’s latest attempt to counter threats of domestic and/or international terrorism posed against Americans. Nonetheless, Snowden reveals an ‘eerie’ image of the program himself: the technology enables itself to sneak into social networks, search engines, email services, and other communication networks over the whole planet, thus embodying a super ‘wiretapping’ system in which American intelligence bodies can aptly track down every suspicious movement across the globe, possibly damaging the concept of freedom itself the American government so ‘staunchly’ endorses to the rest of the global sphere. Snowden’s testimony once again tests Obama administration’s commitment to preserve civil liberties among the international societies, which has been severely lambasted by both Manning and Snowden revelations.
Reminiscent of a spy thriller, Snowden globe-trots to the other side of the planet – now hiding in Hong Kong, and he is both a gift and a threat to the stability of international geopolitical scenes today. Hong Kong government has yet to decide what to do with Snowden. Chinese government has yet to comment and choose sides regarding Snowden’s case. Russian authorities are more than willing to provide ‘asylum’ to Snowden. And he himself sets his eyes to Iceland.
Losing permanent contact with either his girl friend or his family in Hawaii, as well as his 200,000-dollar-a-year job, Snowden’s life is undoubtedly at high risks.
A columnist, on the other hand, does not consider what Snowden did as ‘heroic’. Read the full article in The New Yorker.