Gelzon de la Cruz

Unintended Consequences

In Society, Technology on July 2, 2013 at 10:57 pm

When Edward Snowden blew the whistle on domestic spying by the National Security Agency (NSA), he essentially held the US Government accountable for the unintended consequences of compromises it had made in the hot pursuit of those who would threaten his nation.


Now, his flight from prosecution while bearing several laptops that he used to gain access to sensitive NSA documents has brought him, and those secrets, first to China and then to Russia. While he waits without valid passport at a Moscow airport terminal, Snowden’s itinerary and outstanding applications for political asylum are being influenced by Wikileaks protagonist Julian Assange, the self-styled anti-secrecy hacker.

In this developing situation where each day threatens more news of Snowden’s unbelievably poor judgement, and while the US continues to grapple with the extent and ramifications of his actions, the country is split on whether to call Snowden a patriot, or a traitor. I must ask, why?

Is Snowden not a man, and not an amoeba? Should he not be judged by the consequences of his actions–actions that have led to secrets about the secrets of US citizens getting into the hands of both China and Russia? Have his actions not caused more harm than the good he says he aspires for? Shouldn’t he be accountable for all these, whether he intended these or not? And, aren’t these the kind of questions he asked about his employer Booz Allen Hamilton, their clients the NSA and the CIA, and ultimately the whole US Government, when he judged them all to be in the wrong?

The solicitous assistance of Assange suggests an affinity between him and Snowden, one fugitive hacker helping out another. That perception is inaccurate. If Assange wants to hitch his wagon to Snowden’s, that’s his call. But by his actions, Snowden has shown himself not to be a daring hacker, just a mere bumbling hack.


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