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Edward Snowden: Political Martyr Or Tyrant?

1895 words - 8 pages

During May of 2013 Edward Snowden, a previously contracted worker for Booz Allen Hamilton at a remote office in Hawaii, compromised millions of classified NSA documents. Snowden worked for Booz Allen for three months as a system administrator until he was terminated in June of 2013. Snowden, granted special privileges as a system administrator was able to access, copy and download files that other users would not have access to. Snowden also had no virtual signature on the servers, being that he was an administrator he had unrestricted clearance and could access and transfer classified files without raising any red flags.
Following his termination in June of 2013, Snowden released classified NSA documents to media sources to make available to the public. These documents held sensitive information regarding foreign informants, as well as surveillance measures that the NSA took to maximize security. One classified document Snowden released had information about a program called PRISM, which collects data on many servers such as those of Facebook and YouTube. Snowden also released classified documents regarding the bugging of foreign political offices, putting strain on foreign relations.
The first interaction between Snowden and the press was when Snowden reached out to a reporter for the newspaper The Guardian in May of 2013 asking for help in releasing the stolen information. Later that month Snowden sent the reporter a 41-page slideshow regarding a program called PRISM. Within the following two weeks, The Guardian published four of the forty-one slides. Since June of 2013, Snowden has released hundreds of documents ranging from details regarding the tracking of Verizon phone records to monitoring users on computer games such as World of Warcraft. Snowden fled to Hong Kong in June, and when the United States government was seeking extradition, he left for Russia and requested temporary asylum. Russian President Vladimir Putin granted the temporary asylum for one year under the conditions that he did not strain the relations between Russia and the United States further. Snowden now lives in Russia on his temporary asylum for the time being, trying to elude his espionage charges in the United States.
Although opinions vary whether Snowden is a hero or a traitor, he has said that his intentions were not malignant. Edward released this information because he could not allow the federal government to “destroy privacy, internet freedom… [And] basic liberties around the world” (qtd. in Greenwald, MacAskill, and Poitras) and releasing the information was a step towards protecting those expectations of all people.
A controversial topic is whether Snowden is a whistle-blower or a malefactor. According to Susan Milligan, a political and foreign affairs writer for U.S. News, a whistle-blower is a “dedicated employee who comes to realize that there is corruption… happening at his or her workplace” and takes appropriate action to do what is right. Snowden...

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