Former Vice President Al Gore did not exactly break new ground when he said Tuesday that Edward Snowden had “provided an important service” by revealing to the extent to which the American government spies on people in the United States and abroad.
Yes, Secretary of State John Kerry and others in the Obama administration and in Congress may casually toss around words like “traitor” when discussing the former National Security Administration contractor. But The New York Times has made the case that
[c]onsidering the enormous value of the information he has revealed, and the abuses he has exposed, Mr. Snowden deserves better than a life of permanent exile, fear and flight. He may have committed a crime to do so, but he has done his country a great service. It is time for the United States to offer Mr. Snowden a plea bargain or some form of clemency that would allow him to return home, face at least substantially reduced punishment in light of his role as a whistle-blower, and have the hope of a life advocating for greater privacy and far stronger oversight of the runaway intelligence community.
Some in Congress have gone further.
Congressman Jim McGovern, D-Massachusetts, says, “I’ve come to the conclusion that he’s more of a whistle-blower than a villain.… I think the outrage people in the administration have expressed toward Edward Snowden ought to be more focused on how the NSA broke privacy laws.”
So Gore was, in many senses, simply restating a relatively mainstream view when, during a session at Tennessee’s Southland Technology + Southern Culture Conference, he was asked what PandoDaily refers to as the “Is he a traitor or a hero?” question. Gore responded: