Edward Snowden, who leaked information to reporters earlier this month about the U.S. National Security Administration’s classified surveillance program, follows in the footsteps of a long line of government informants who have shared top secrets with the press and helped shake up the establishment. To some they’re considered heroes, to others traitors. To journalists, and the media at large, these stories are pretty much the holy grail.
For news hounds and conspiracy theorists alike, the past few days have been about as good as it gets.
A series of groundbreaking news stories, one published by the British paper The Guardian, the second by the The Guardian and the Washington Post, uncovered two top-secret U.S. government surveillance programs run by the National Security Agency, both aimed at collecting massive amounts of personal communications data. The findings have reignited the age-old debate over privacy and security. Civil libertarians – an interesting mix of key outspoken conservatives and liberals (yes, Rand Paul, Al Gore, and the ACLU are on the same page on this one) – expressed outrage over privacy invasions and government overreach, while President Barack Obama and a similarly unique blend of conservative and liberal government officials are defending the programs as a “critical tool” for rooting out potential terrorist activity and protecting American lives. Continue reading