St. Lucy's Priory High School

Edward Snowden: The American Benedict Arnold

“Whistleblower” is too kind of a word to describe Edward Snowden. Traitor, Judas, and even Benedict Arnold are more befitting terms for a man who, three years ago, pilfered and leaked 15 million classified documents without the authorization to do so.

Knowing that he was breaking the law and would need to face the consequences of his actions, Snowden fled his residence in Hawaii to travel to Hong Kong.

While in China, Snowden leaked classified documents to the American public on the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs. Sometimes national security programs need secrecy to be effective. This is certainly true in the case of the National Security Agency (NSA), which has programs that depend on secrecy from targeted foreign terrorists.

In the case of these security programs, elected and judicial officials are charged with weighing the value of transparency against the national security benefits of secrecy. All three branches have approved the NSA’s programs.

Snowden has the right to disagree with the government’s decisions and actions. However, he does not have the right to usurp the democratic process by leaking classified national security information.

Snowden proceeded to release classified information about the U.S. military’s capabilities, operations, tactics, techniques and procedures. The leaking of this information only benefits those who wish to do our country harm.

Ed Morrisey, senior editor of, says “We should not confuse the necessity of the debate with the sanctity to the person who prompted it.”

Snowden is not a patriot, or an American hero. Snowden is a coward. He violated the Espionage of Act of 1917. He put our country at risk and fled to another country because he knew there would be consequences for his actions. This reeks of cowardice.

We cannot turn Snowden into a hero or patriot for opening a vital national debate on the balance between security and liberty, especially when he broke the trust of the United States government.

We cannot forget that Snowden traveled to Russia, with an unknown number of these documents in his possession, for asylum. Snowden lived in Moscow where he was given a one year asylum which has now been extended to three years. This says a lot about Snowden’s character.

A 30-year-old traitor flees to Russia, a country that the U.S. is not on good terms with. The frightening scenarios one can conjure up are endless. Who can blame us for being scared? Snowden could have put our country in greater danger by releasing the information he had with us to the Russian government.

Snowden is now asking President Obama for a pardon that he does not deserve. Snowden should return to the U.S., but only to be tried and punished for violating the law.

If Obama grants Snowden amnesty, others may take it as an okay to follow Snowden’s path and make the decision of what programs will have their information remain secret or not.

The choice before us is whether we want to celebrate a man who violates the law and if we would rather live with the government’s judgment or encourage unelected, unaccountable people to decide instead.

–Gabrielle Flores