This Jack Devine piece in Politico sums up every problem I have with Team Dudebro Defector:
In his new book, No Place to Hide, Glenn Greenwald tells how Edward Snowden once confided to him, “with a hint of embarrassment,” how much he had learned from playing video games. In the black-and-white world of video games, “the protagonist is often an ordinary person, who finds himself faced with grave injustices from powerful forces and has the choice to flee in fear or to fight for his beliefs,” Greenwald writes.
But Edward Snowden’s video-game world is not the real world. I see Snowden in a very different light. My colleagues and I spent our careers in the CIA looking for people like him—on the other side, that is. We worked hard to locate the kind of person who could be persuaded to give up his country’s secrets: narcissistic, often delusional under-achievers whom we could hope to turn into loose-lipped sources in our enemies’ camps and other hostile locations. We understood just how valuable it was to every aspect of our foreign policy to know the plans and intentions of our enemies; the best way to do this was to look for a source and exploit people like Snowden, the National Security Agency leaker, to target for this purpose.
The Russians weren’t slouches either in searching for sources of classified information. They were looking for their Snowdens too. You don’t have to go back too far to see their success in recruiting American spies with unique access – John Anthony Walker, Aldreich Ames, and Robert Hanssen – who did immense damage to our national security. Moreover, Ames and Hanssen’s compromises led to the death of many of our top Russian sources. Walker’s compromise, by contrast, allowed the Soviets to know the locations of U.S. submarines around the world. One shudders to think what more could have been done against us if they had had Snowden’s access to sensitive communications and his technical know-how on how to extract it from the system. Some people think of Snowden as a latter-day Daniel Ellsberg, a noble whistle-blower. Clearly I do not.
Once again, if your goal was to do as much damage as possible to the intelligence capability of the US, Edward Snowden could not have done a more crushingly thorough job. The debate over the NSA's role and oversight is something that needs to happen and continues to be ongoing. But the debate over whether or not the actions taken by Snowden, Greenwald and others caused lasting harm to the country is over, and we lost.
Terrorist group al Qaeda and its offshoots have created new encryption software in the wake of the June 2013 leaks by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, according to a new report from Big Data firm Recorded Future.
While U.S. government officials have contended that its adversaries would respond to revelations on NSA surveillance techniques with counter-measures of their own, there has been little public evidence that’s been the case. This is some of the first tangible evidence that al Qaeda and others may have responded by creating new encryption software.
Since 2007, the main encryption software for al Qaeda was called Asrar al-Mujahideen which means Mujahideen Secrets. Four to six months after the Snowden leaks, three Middle Eastern groups released three significant new tool sets for encryption, against a baseline of basically no new products for seven years, said Christopher Ahlberg, CEO of Recorded Future, which uses large quantities of publicly available online data to predict the timing and targets of future cyberattacks.
“Of course, this could be random, but it seems unlikely,” said Mr. Ahlberg, in an email. “Snowden provided the motivation and his leaks highlighted the means.”
So the debate now shifts to cost analysis: how much damage is the NSA doing with its techniques, versus how much damage has been done by exposing them. That's the debate we should be having at this point. Yes, the NSA has violated the public trust, but so did Edward Snowden. It remains to be seen which will have more long-lasting detrimental effects to our country.