But Snowden’s argument isn’t doing particularly well in the court of public opinion, which seems more inclined to the government’s view that Snowden is a fugitive from criminal justice and therefore subject to various authorities of law enforcement. Several supporters organized rallies on July 4 in cities around the US, but total turnout was around 3,000. The biggest rally, in Washington DC, weighed in at an estimated 400…

Snowden’s failed appeal to the masses is just the latest turn in a mixed tactical performance. By one important measure, he has been enormously successful. The U.S. is now engaged in a full-blown debate over the balance between privacy and security. Previously unknown details about the extent of domestic NSA spying are now widely discussed. The head of U.S. intelligence, James Clapper, has apologized [pdf] for misleading Congress about the NSA programs, and faces an uncertain future.

But Snowden’s success on the public front contrasts with his struggles on the private front. His decision to go to Hong Kong was ill-conceived: the island has no refugee policy and was uncomfortable having him there. Then, apparently on the advice of a new-found friend from Wikileaks with no legal background, he flew to Moscow. That hurt his reputation, and his cause, and has complicated his personal situation.