His is a face that will be remembered for years and a name that will be remembered for decades. It isn’t what he revealed that will cause his legacy to endure. It’s the effects of his actions that will continue to resonate as long as the United States is still a world super power.
When Edward Snowden leaked information about the NSA data collection initiatives that have been spying on Americans for years, it caused outrage domestically as it was intended to do. Now, the reach of his revelation is spreading around the world. Those who didn’t trust America before now have an entry point through which to investigate the defense and espionage practices of the country.
Today, there are inquiries and investigations. Tomorrow, there will be accusations and demands. Brazil is launching a massive investigation into the NSA surveillance footprint on their own soil after Snowden named them the top target in Latin America. China now has a stronger scent about where to look while fighting American surveillance in their country. Russia has been openly hateful for years and are now probing deeper into the NSA, only with a more focused approach.
Those are just the top 3 countries listed by Snowden. It doesn’t even include the damage done to some of America’s closest allies in Europe.
Edward Snowden has started an avalanche. In many ways, that was likely the intention and his actions before and after he blew the whistle indicate that we haven’t heard the last from him whether he’s caught or stays in exile. What’s less clear is the reasoning behind the avalanche.
Those who support him say that he’s a hero defending the privacy of Americans, but that argument is hard to make as he has extended his accusations beyond helping the American people. Those who do not support him say he is a traitor, someone who is trying to do harm to the country, but that type of motivation normally drives people to stay hidden as long as possible rather than to come out publicly as the person behind the leaks.
The actions of Edward Snowden seem to be consistent with one motivation – to take down the NSA, CIA, and other elements of the US intelligence community. Sure, there was a good amount of anti-Big-Brother patriotism at work and they was likely at least a little desire deep down to hurt the country for its actions, but the real enemy in the mind of the Edward Snowden appears to be the NSA itself. Otherwise, he would not have done all of the actions that he’s taken so far.
He wanted them to know who bested them. He wanted the American people and the people of the world to judge him one way or another. He wanted to protect the privacy of the people of the United States as well as the people of the rest of the world that the United States targets. None of these motivations are in question.
The main motivation, despite all of these worthy or unworthy elements, was to expose the NSA. They were his primary target. They are the reason that he started this avalanche and why he will continue to feed it more snow until he’s exhausted or captured.
Edward Snowden may or may not be a hero. He may or may not be a traitor. He is definitely a man of vengeance and the intended victim of his wrath was the National Security Agency.