Re: Snowden is no hero but makes an even worse traitor
Let's unpack just a piece of that, this idea that "unbridled NSA surveillance of American citizens is vastly more harmful to our democracy than Snowden's exposure of it."
What's harmful to democracy is when we cease valuing the primacy of the rule of law.
The information the NSA is gathering is (to a significant degree) exactly what we happily give up to Google, Apple, Amazon, etc. The metadata on phone calls is stored by the phone companies, and the legality over ownership and expectation of privacy of data turned over to a third party is far from clear. Americans freely elected the politicians who enacted and expanded the Patriot Act, which as you may recall, expressly "allows government agencies to gather "foreign intelligence information" from both U.S. and non-U.S. citizens."
We got *exactly* the government actions we asked for via our elected representitives. If you don't like it, tell your representatives to repeal the Patriot Act or vote for the new "USA Freedom Act" seeking NSA reforms.
Had Snowden made these revelations in a limited and responsible manner, then stayed around and dealt with the fallout, he'd be a whistleblower -- civil disobedience, as Charlie says. He didn't. He stole vast amounts of data, broke his employment contract, fled the country, and damaged our national security by sharing reportedly very sensitive data with Russia and China. That makes him a criminal and a traitor.
Comparing this to civil rights struggles is insulting. I am not saying it wasn't good to have this conversation. But the ends do not justfy the means.