Slatest PM: Is Edward Snowden a Hero?

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
June 10 2013 4:53 PM

Slatest PM: Is Edward Snowden a Hero or a Villain?

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Supporters gather at a small rally in support of National Security Administration (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden in Manhattan's Union Square on June 10, 2013 in New York City

Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

Point: Edward Snowden Is a Hero: The New Yorker's John Cassidy: "Is Edward Snowden, the twenty-nine-year-old N.S.A. whistle-blower who was last said to be hiding in Hong Kong awaiting his fate, a hero or a traitor? He is a hero. ... In revealing the colossal scale of the U.S. government’s eavesdropping on Americans and other people around the world, he has performed a great public service that more than outweighs any breach of trust he may have committed. Like Daniel Ellsberg, the former Defense Department official who released the Pentagon Papers, and Mordechai Vanunu, the Israeli nuclear technician who revealed the existence of Israel’s weapons program, before him, Snowden has brought to light important information that deserved to be in the public domain, while doing no lasting harm to the national security of his country." Read more.

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Counterpoint: No He's Not: The New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin: "[S]ome ... are hailing him as a hero and a whistle-blower. He is neither. He is, rather, a grandiose narcissist who deserves to be in prison. ... What, one wonders, did Snowden think the N.S.A. did? Any marginally attentive citizen, much less N.S.A. employee or contractor, knows that the entire mission of the agency is to intercept electronic communications. Perhaps he thought that the N.S.A. operated only outside the United States; in that case, he hadn’t been paying very close attention. In any event, Snowden decided that he does not 'want to live in a society' that intercepts private communications. His latter-day conversion is dubious. And what of his decision to leak the documents? Doing so was, as he more or less acknowledges, a crime." Read more.

Speaking of Crimes: Associated Press: "Snowden could face many years in prison for releasing classified information if he is successfully extradited from Hong Kong, according to Mark Zaid, a national security lawyer who represents whistleblowers. ... 'The government could subject him to a 10 or 20 year penalty for each count,' with each document leaked considered a separate charge, Zaid said. ... Snowden told the Guardian newspaper he believes the government could try to charge him with treason under the Espionage Act, but Zaid said that would require the government to prove he had intent to betray the United States, whereas he publicly made it clear he did this to spur debate. ... The government could also make an argument that the NSA leaks have aided the enemy—as military prosecutors have claimed against Army Pvt. Bradley Manning, who faces life in prison under military law if convicted for releasing a trove of classified documents through the Wikileaks website."

Iceland May Not Offer a Warm Welcome Either: Reuters: "The leaker who revealed top secret U.S. surveillance programs says he hopes to find shelter in Iceland, but he may be disappointed by the reception from a new government seen as less keen than predecessors to attract exiles and Internet renegades. ... [T]he government of newly-elected conservative Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, while still untested, is widely seen as closer to Washington than past administrations and less keen to foster the island country's cyber-haven image. ... 'I think what this guy is saying is based on something he is imagining or hoping for rather than actual facts,' [said Stefania Oskarsdottir, lecturer in political science at the University of Iceland]. ... As a U.S. citizen, Snowden would not need a visa to enter Iceland and could immediately apply for asylum. He would be free to live in Iceland while immigration authorities decide his case, which could take more than a year, according to Helga Vala Helgadottir, a lawyer specializing in asylum cases."

Happy Monday, and welcome to The Slatest PM. Follow your afternoon host on Twitter at @JoshVoorhees and the whole team at @slatest.

Zimmerman Trial Gets Underway: NBC News: "Potential jurors met George Zimmerman on Monday before filling out questionnaires for the lawyers picking a panel that will decide if he’s guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Trayvon Martin. Prosecutors and defense attorneys are looking for six jurors and some alternates, a process expected to take roughly two weeks. Five hundred people have received summonses for the high-profile trial, and 100 of them reported on Monday. ... T he questionnaires given to the jury have not been made public. In mid-afternoon, the lawyers began questioning some jurors, known as voir dire. Both sides can exercise challenges to have potential jurors excluded. Challenges for cause must have a valid reason attached. And the prosecution and defense each get six peremptory challenges, in which a juror can be dismissed for no stated reason."

A State Dept. Cover-Up? CBS News: "CBS News has uncovered documents that show the State Department may have covered up allegations of illegal and inappropriate behavior within their ranks. The Diplomatic Security Service, or the DSS, is the State Department's security force, charged with protecting the secretary of state and U.S. ambassadors overseas and with investigating any cases of misconduct on the part of the 70,000 State Department employees worldwide. CBS News' John Miller reports that according to an internal State Department Inspector General's memo, several recent investigations were influenced, manipulated, or simply called off. The memo obtained by CBS News cited eight specific examples. Among them: allegations that a State Department security official in Beirut 'engaged in sexual assaults' on foreign nationals hired as embassy guards and the charge and that members of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's security detail 'engaged prostitutes while on official trips in foreign countries' -- a problem the report says was ]endemic.'"

CO2 Alert: Washington Post: "Global emissions of carbon dioxide from energy use rose 1.4 percent to 31.6 gigatons in 2012, setting a record and putting the planet on course for temperature increases well above international climate goals, the International Energy Agency said in a report scheduled to be issued Monday. The agency said continuing that pace could mean a temperature increase over pre-industrial times of as much as 5.3 degrees Celsius (9 degrees Fahrenheit), which IEA chief economist Fatih Birol warned 'would be a disaster for all countries.'"

Three Years Later... : Associated Press: " Cleanup work has ended in three of the states affected by BP PLC's massive 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the company said Monday. The London-based oil giant said the Coast Guard has concluded 'active cleanup operations' in Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, but the work continues along 84 miles of Louisiana's shoreline. The cleanup by BP contractors ended last Friday in Alabama, on June 1 in Florida and on May 1 in Mississippi, according to company spokesman Jason Ryan. ... BP said it has spent more than $14 billion on response and cleanup activities, with more than 48,000 people involved in those efforts at the height of the spill's aftermath."

Mumbai Building Collapse: AFP: " An apartment block collapsed in central Mumbai on Monday evening, killing at least one person with more feared trapped inside, police said, on the second day of heavy monsoon rains in the city. ... Four diggers and a crowd of people were gathered around a high mound of rubble -- the remains of half of the five-storey building that caved in, said an AFP photographer at the scene. The other half of the building was still standing. The Press Trust of India news agency, quoting a municipal officer, said the deceased was an elderly woman and that four others had been injured and taken to hospital."

iRadio Is Here: Reuters: "Apple Inc on Monday unveiled a music streaming service that is a key part of overhauled mobile software that the company called the most revolutionary re-design of its operating system since the iPhone was introduced in 2007. iTunes Radio, one of the more highly anticipated new features in the revamped iOS mobile platform, is free with ads across many Apple devices including iPhones, iPads and even Apple TV."

A Few More Quick Hits From Slate's Blogs—

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