While some journalistic standards were compromised by Snowden’s moves, his actions also call into question the standards government the intelligence community. Michael Hayden, the former NSA chief, said on Monday that Snowden’s actions should have alerted people that he was planning to breach information. “It’s a broader culture problem; it’s a vetting problem,” he explained. Systems administrators are empowered with enormous trust; why was someone so open with his disdain for the intelligence community allowed to remain in such a crucial position?
Several people involved in the leak have said Snowden was planning the leak since at least January — two months before he took his job at the NSA. Did Snowden take his job at the NSA planning to steal documents and flee the country? If so, that raises serious questions about the vetting and personnel management within the intelligence community. It also raises doubts about Snowden’s own account of his decision to steal this information, which he claims took form after he began working for the NSA.
Finally, Snowden’s choice of safe haven raises serious questions about his judgment and intentions. “Hong Kong has a reputation for freedom in spite of the People’s Republic of China,” he told the Guardian. “It has a strong tradition of free speech.”