Edward Snowden: From Whistleblower to Traitor
Business + Economy

Edward Snowden: From Whistleblower to Traitor

Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency IT worker who leaked documents revealing details about U.S. electronic surveillance and cyber security, is at it again.

This time, he told Hong Kong’s English-language South China Morning Post that the United States has been conducting sustained attacks against Chinese targets since 2009. The Morning Post reported that Snowden showed the “unverified documents” revealing details of the attack.

“We hack network backbones – like huge Internet routers, basically – that give us access to the communications of hundreds of thousands of computers without having to hack every single one,” he said, according to the Morning Post.

Snowden also told the Morning Post that the NSA has 61,000 global cyber warfare operations, including hundreds against targets in Hong Kong and Mainland China.

In the same interview, Snowden also claimed that the United States is attempting to “bully” Hong Kong into extraditing him.

“I heard today from a reliable source that the United States government is trying to bully the Hong Kong government into extraditing me before the local government can learn of this [the US National Security Agency hacking people in Hong Kong],” he said. “The U.S. government will do anything to prevent me from getting this into the public eye, which is why they are pushing so hard for extradition.” 

He said he chose Hong Kong because he believed Hong Kong’s government and people would not send him back.

"People who think I made a mistake in picking Hong Kong as a location misunderstood my intentions,” he said in the interview. “I am not here to hide from justice; I am here to reveal criminality," he said. “I have had many opportunities to flee HK, but I would rather stay and fight the United States government in the courts, because I have faith in Hong Kong’s rule of law.

Snowden’s latest revelations serve as a direct rebuttal to those who claim he is a whistleblower. By speaking to Hong Kong media as opposed to the Guardian or the Washington Post, he is reaching out directly to the city that he hopes will protect him from American authorities.

But more troubling are his statements on U.S. cyber security. As an NSA employee, Snowden swore to protect American secrets. He’s now offering them to China, a country that holds the largest part of the overall U.S. debt; a country that has an enormous influence on North Korea, which has vowed to destroy the U.S.; a country that has hacked our corporate and military secrets; and a country that has manipulated its currency to the detriment of the U.S. dollar.

We suggested in a piece published this morning that Snowden might use the information he has to curry favor with China. It’s one thing to leak to the media; it’s a very different thing to peddle state secrets for protection. What he’s doing now makes him more a traitor than a whistleblower.

That’s not how Snowden sees himself. In his mind, he’s a crusader of truth, an avenging angel saving the American public from an unseen yet ubiquitous Orwellian oppression.

“Last week the American government happily operated in the shadows with no respect for the consent of the governed, but no longer,” he said. “Every level of society is demanding accountability and oversight.”

Maybe U.S. oversight should start with Snowden—a known thief, liar and traitor.