Is it “whistleblowing” to reveal how the United States and Britain spy on diplomats at the G20? Or to expose the targets of NSA hacking into Chinese targets? “One human-rights activist sympathetic to Snowden recently told me that the G20 spying revelations and the discussion of IP data with the South China Morning Post “concerned” her organization.” But as The Nation’s Rick Perlstein recently discovered, there is a certain all-or-nothingness that guides Snowden’s most diehard supporters (and a confused law-and-order patriotism from his detractors, many of whom distrust the government with everything but the possession of our most intimate data).
Likewise, Snowden has said that he’s concerned with the privacy rights of non-Americans, and urged a “return to sanity, constitutional policy, and the rule of law rather than men” in the United States. Both admirable positions, for sure. But how can one not, then, point out Snowden’s decision to utilize countries contemptuous of democracy—and ruled by men, not laws—in order to expose a lack of democracy?
So yes, it is necessary to point out that, from Moscow, Snowden looks to be relocating, after a possible stop in Havana, to Ecuador, a country classified by Freedom House as “partially free,” with an “unfree” press. As we debate protecting journalists like Glenn Greenwald from the scurrilous attacks of both his fellow journalists, and politicians, it’s also worth noting that the Committee to Protect Journalists has expressed its “dismay” over a repressive new media law, inspired by Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa’s late mentor Hugo Chávez, that allows the government to “impose arbitrary sanctions and censor the press.”