Snowden should return to the United States

Published: Wednesday, July 17, 2013 at 04:30 PM.

I’ve never met Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor and current infamous NSA secrets leaker stuck in no man’s land at Moscow’s international airport for more than three weeks now. I don’t know him and I don’t know anyone who knows him. What I think I know about him, like you, I’ve superficially learned mostly from the news media.

Yet what I think I know about him — some of which is based on good news reporting and his own comments but much of which is based on hearsay, innuendo, and biases I and others possess — is not enough to make a definitive conclusion about his motives, about who he is as a person.

You have to really know someone, have walked a mile in his or her shoes, to truly understand their motives. So since I don’t know Snowden, I can’t reach a conclusion about who he really is. Well, let me correct that. I CAN reach a conclusion, but as badly as my human nature wants to do so, I’m trying not to decide who Edward Snowden really is. And therefore I’m a bit torn about him.

On the one hand, I feel a little sorry for him. He’s effectively a man without a country. Not that any of this is, or should be, an excuse for giving away secrets he was entrusted to keep, but he’s young, still impressionable, and probably has been taken advantage of by those who don’t like the U.S.

His passport has been revoked and he’s been charged with espionage due to his leaking of NSA secrets. He’s been offered asylum in several Latin American countries, none of which can be described as a friend of the U.S. Neither can the two countries that have helped him so far — China and Russia — be described as U.S. friends.

He’s a high school dropout who earned a GED. With his limited formal education, but must be other-worldly computer skills, he reportedly earned more than $200,000 a year as a Booz Allen Hamilton contractor with the NSA.

This of course is not an area for which I feel sorry for him, but I have to admit to wondering how the heck someone with so little education who sits behind a desk tapping on computer keys can earn so much money. But then again, I don’t know what Snowden did with the NSA so I must suppress my nature to want to conclude his worth.

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