If you work for the Government and do not take your whistle to the office every day, resign: you are not serving the American people. It is your moral duty–and it should be your legal duty–to look for and report abuse of power.
At the core of any judgment about the course of democracy and liberty must lie the society’s and the ruling elite’s attitude toward the two-sided coin of whistle-blowing/obeying the law. The law is never the law; the powerful always get special treatment. Nevertheless, one might argue that the law should be the law…at least until we gain the maturity to fix its weaknesses. But in the meantime, those who abuse power must, one way or the other, be dealt with, and, after all, they are the ones who write the law as well as the ones who implement the law…frequently for the purpose of protecting themselves from being held responsible for the abuses they commit. And everyone is reminded daily by the dishonorable behavior of our government that those who work within the system to report abuses of power are promptly stabbed in the back for their patriotism. Patriotism is simply not a concept that much occupies the minds of Washington decision-makers.
Thus, the focus in response to whistle-blowing should always, always be on listening to the revealed evidence rather than judging the whistle-blower. In the case of Snowden, the Obama Administration did absolutely everything it could to conceal the message and punish the messenger.
The second level focus should be on placing the particular act of whistle-blowing in context. If a gang of war profiteer corporations is cashing in on a war of choice distinguished by a long list of apparent fraud (e.g., by illegally awarding a multi-billion dollar sole source contract to a buddy) or crimes against humanity (e.g., widespread torture, the dropping of white phosphorous on cities), a bureaucrat’s misdemeanor of reporting abuse of power should be judged very sympathetically. If a president is running a secret program illegally, unconstitutionally using intelligence agencies to violate U.S. law by operating domestically to spy on all Americans, again a bureaucrat’s misdemeanor of reporting such abuse of power should be judged very sympathetically. The law is the law. Running a red light is illegal. However, one expects consideration when one runs a red light to save a child from an on-coming truck.
Snowden is guilty. Slap his wrist, then give him the reward he deserves for saving the child of democracy. Then, put Clapper on trial for lying to Congress, put Obama on trial for running unconstitutional domestic spying, and put the guilty NSA officials on trial for not blowing the whistle.
Oh, sorry, ya can’t; ain’t no law requiring officials to uphold the Constitution by blowing their whistles. How convenient for those who abuse; kinda like making it illegal for a battered wife to fight for her life but “forgetting” to make beating up your wife a crime. Gee, guess we gotta fix the law.