"The man who gave classified documents to reporters, making public two sweeping U.S. surveillance programs and touching off a national debate on privacy versus security, has revealed his own identity. He risked decades in jail for the disclosures — if the U.S. can extradite him from Hong Kong where he says he has taken refuge.
"Edward Snowden, 29, who says he worked as a contractor at the National Security Agency and the CIA, allowed The Guardian and The Washington Post newspapers to reveal his identity Sunday."
Here's a collection of fresh commentary on this developing story:
USA TODAY editorial board: "If purity of motive is the measure -- and if Snowden's account of his actions holds up -- he might well fit the hero's mold."
MICHAEL B. MUKASEY in The Wall Street Journal: "Some wallow in the idea that they are being watched, their civil liberties endangered, simply because a handful of electrons they generated were among the vast billions being reviewed in a high-stakes antiterrorism effort. Of course, many are motivated politically or ideologically to oppose robust intelligence-gathering aimed at fending off Islamist terrorism. Criticism from that quarter can be left to lie where it fell."
DANIEL ELLSBERG in The Guardian: "The fact that congressional leaders were "briefed" on this and went along with it, without any open debate, hearings, staff analysis, or any real chance for effective dissent, only shows how broken the system of checks and balances is in this country."
JAMES FALLOWS in The Atlantic: "I am sorry that Snowden chose Hong Kong as his point of refuge. ... Hong Kong is not a sovereign country. It is part of China -- a country that by the libertarian standards Edward Snowden says he cares about is worse, not better, than the United States. China has even more surveillance of its citizens (it has gone very far toward ensuring that it knows the real identity of everyone using the internet); its press is thoroughly government-controlled; it has no legal theory of protection for free speech; and it doesn't even have national elections. Hong Kong lives a time-limited separate existence, under the 'one country, two systems' principle, but in a pinch, it is part of China."
NICHOLAS THOMPSON in The New Yorker: "Leaks, leak investigations, and war go together. War abroad has a way of turning into war at home—as the government seeks to ferret out who is giving secrets to whom in the press. War also alienates young men and women in government. People come to work for candidates who promise peace. In power, the same leaders start wars, or at least join them. This was as true of Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon as it has been for Bush and Obama."
THE GUARDIAN editorial board: "Snowden is self-evidently not a common thief. He is more like a conscientious objector. It is not enough for Congress to outsource his interrogation to the FBI. It is vital, above all, that elected representatives test the truth of what he is saying – and not simply the ones who, it seems all too possible, have been asleep while minding the shop."