Snowden: a Question of Ethics

Lisa Cochran, Co-editor in Chief

In the world of U.S Government policy, Edward Snowden is a multi-faceted figure. As a former CIA employee, his actions in revealing the covert operations of the United States Government and the National Security Agency have created an ethical dilemma and a question of how our country should deal with whistleblowers.

His actions, while considered to have many consequences, did reveal a shocking component of the government that Americans and international citizens had been oblivious to.

However, to believe that Snowden did the citizens of the United States an immense favor is a fallacy. Snowden did reveal information that shocked the world, however, he risked numerous lives in doing this.

It is also unclear whether he was motivated by an insatiable patriotism or merely self-interest.

“He was willing to put other people’s lives at risk, but not his own.” said Kirstin Sullivan, Ames High social studies teacher.

It’s true that by exposing many layers of the CIA’s operations, Snowden’s actions risked the deaths of several CIA officers.

In this instance, several questions manifest themselves- did he take his measures through the correct means? While Snowden has gained hero status and has been referred to as a whistleblower, technically, he did not take the safest approach by not following appropriate whistleblower protocol. Perhaps, Snowden did not feel as though he had a choice in this scenario. According to Patrick Eddington, a former CIA imagery analyst, his own attempts to go through appropriate whistleblowing channels were to no effect. Eddington made claims that it was the lackadaisical nature of the CIA in dealing with whistleblowing that led Snowden to ring the bell in the way that he did.

His means of escape are also a rather controversial topic. Some argue that he should’ve stayed in the United States  to face his charges while others argue that he was right to flee and defend himself.

The fact that he fleed to Russia, a country with a history of conflict with the United States, is also a conflict of interest. As of late, there has been speculation that if Snowden were to come back to the United States on his charges of treason and violations of the Espionage Act- he would face the death penalty.

The way Snowden fled, he put himself in a spot” said Chad Zmolek, AHS social studies teacher.

While many aspects of Snowden’s case are somewhat unclear- it is evident that he has caused an ethical uproar in the world of governmental policy. His actions have divided the ideas of citizens.

Some consider him a hero, while some consider him a self-absorbed lunatic- either way, he has changed the face of National Security perhaps permanently.