The Snowden leaks are causing further consternation as debates about whether Snowden managed to do anything useful continue.
Going against the general perception of the American people, security experts overwhelmingly believe that Snowden’s leaks were not worth it.
Sara Sorcher, reporting for the National Journal, writes:
Even though public polls show Americans are increasingly concerned about their privacy — and oppose the agency’s once-secret collection of telephone and Internet metadata — Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said the revelations from the former NSA contractor caused “massive” and “historic” damage to U.S. security.
The pool of experts overwhelmingly say that the ensuing public debate over civil liberties was not worth the harm to national security. “[Snowden] compromised important intelligence sources and methods,” one Insider said, “and terrorists and foreign governments have updated their tradecraft in response.”
The 100 insiders surveyed by the National Journal are defence and foreign policy experts. By a wide margin, the overwhelming viewpoint is that Snowden did little to actually help. If he wanted real change, one insider noted, Snowden could have easily brought his findings to Congress and initiated a debate there. Instead, by leaking the documents and fleeing the country, Snowden fails three key whistleblower tests.
Many see Snowden’s actions as being self-serving and disastrous for US security. It is impossible to tell how much damage these revelations have done to the US’s ability to defend itself and its interests overseas. Of course, the foreign policy fallout has also been enormous, damaging US credibility amongst allies and potential friends worldwide.
Still, 20 per cent of insiders questioned believe that Snowden’s revelations were a net benefit for the country. One insider surveyed stated, “”The Snowden disclosures prompted a much needed assessment and public dialogue. Clapper overstates the damage, but much of the damage caused could be fixed with more thoughtful policy.”
The long term fallout from Snowden is impossible to predict. We can only hope, though, that for better or worse, the debate on security taking place leads us to a still effective, and considerate, method of security.
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