Quoted: on Edward Snowden and finding NSA’s phone-records collection to be illegal

“Maybe someone who reveals a secret program that multiple federal judges say is ILLEGAL is a whistleblower who deserves gratitude — not prison?”

Glenn Greenwald, one of the journalists who first wrote about the massive NSA spying program, based on leaks by former government tech contractor Edward Snowden. Greenwald’s tweet was in reaction to Thursday’s news that a federal appeals court ruled in response to an ACLU lawsuit that one part of the spying program, the NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records, went beyond what Congress authorized under Section 215 of the Patriot Act.

Politico notes that Snowden’s supporters felt vindicated by the ruling, with Stephen Kohn, executive director of the National Whistleblowers Center, saying it underscores “the importance of whistleblowing.”

Snowden — who leaked piles of government documents that included classified information — is wanted by the U.S. government and has been living in asylum in Russia. While Greenwald and Kohn refer to him as a whistleblower, others call him a traitor.

Gabriel Schoenfeld, a senior fellow at Hudson Institute, told Politico that Snowden’s actions amounted to “naked law-breaking.”

As for what’s next for the NSA’s bulk collection of phone records: The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan said in handing down its ruling that it’s now up to Congress to act on finding a balance between privacy and national security concerns. The ruling comes as Congress is talking about the program ahead of the scheduled expiration of Section 215 on June 1. The USA Freedom Act — which would end the NSA’s bulk collection of phone records and require the agency to request information it needs from the telecom companies that store those records — was passed by the House Judiciary Committee last month. The bill’s supporters include the tech industry and President Obama; those opposed include Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who has said that ending the phone-records collection would amount to “tying our hands behind our backs.”


Photo: Edward Snowden talks during a simulcast conversation at the SXSW Interactive Festival on Monday, March 10, 2014, in Austin, Texas. (Jack Plunkett/Invision/Associated Press)


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  • Sid Wyckoff

    The right thing to do is never easy to do. Snowden made a significant sacrifice for OUR freedom, not his own. Whether you agree with him or not the right thing to do is to welcome him home and thank him for his service.

  • Brett O’Reilly

    I said HERO from the very start – HERO!


  • valorius

    Since day one ive said Snowden was a hero. My opinion has not changed.

    -A US Army veteran and independent voter.

  • GeaugaTruck

    Edward Snowden should be welcomed back to the USA with a ticker-tape parade and the congressional medal of honor.