When you are subverting the power of government, that’s a fundamentally dangerous thing to democracy. [Snowden quoted on Fox News]
Fox News quotes Snowden. In usual Fox News form, it sounds as though Snowden is admitting that he is subverting democracy. He’s not; he was referring to the spy agencies subverting democracy, not himself. (Very sneaky, Fox.)
Cheney predictably defends the program and puts great emphasis on defending the primary people involved in creating the program and on the current NSA chief. He seems sincere, by the way, in his defense.
Regarding Snowden himself, Cheney describes him flatly as a traitor.
Chris Wallace (the news anchor and interviewer) asks Cheney if Snowden was a spy for China the whole time. Cheney replies that he’s suspicious, though the way in which he replied leads me to believe that he’s not really convinced of it. My thought: I highly doubt he was a spy for China at all; the claim makes no sense. A spy for China wouldn’t out himself as a spy, losing everything and living on the run. That’s what whistleblowers do, not self-serving spies.
Having said that, those who support the no-longer-secret NSA program have much to gain by convincing themselves, and eventually believing, that Snowden was a bad guy the entire time. It makes him easier to hate.
The real benefit of Snowden and the leak is becoming very clear to me. It’s a separate question as to whether the program works (I have no idea if it’s effective or not; I’ve read mixed reviews on the matter and do not have a firm decision on it), or whether Snowden is a “traitor” or not (this is a legal or even semantic debate; regardless, I believe his motives were genuine, regardless of his legal status). The real benefit is that this leak, and the possibility of future leaks, will keep spy agencies in check. They know that if they over-reach, or do anything blatantly illegal, they could be caught and held out to dry by the public. That sort of accountability, or even perception of accountability, might be enough to modify behavior.
There will always be people who abuse their power. The fear of consequence, including long after the fact, is the only thing keeping many of them in check. In that sense, perhaps Snowden has done the American people a great public service.