No Sympathy for Snowden
Any Americans who were once tempted to lionize or even sympathize with Edward Snowden must be reassessing the man as he goes from China to Russia to, perhaps, Ecuador in search of refuge. He has confirmed that the U.S. spies on foreign leaders, a comment that can only have been made to cause diplomatic problems for our government, since the fact was surely already understood by every adult in the world. The government has charged him with violating the Espionage Act of 1917, and it is hard to see any valid defense he can mount: He has admitted to breaking the law, and he ought to be brought to justice.
Debate continues about the surveillance programs whose existence Snowden revealed. It seems to us that the government ought to be allowed to collect information about phone and Internet use so long as safeguards are in place. The government should be able to store basic information about all Americans’ phone use in order to be able to detect possible terrorist activity and then ferret out more information about it. It should be able to monitor foreigners’ Internet usage at the risk of discovering some information about Americans’ usage. It should, however, have to delete any information about innocent Americans that agents accidentally access, as is reportedly the current practice.