As Harvard law professor Jack Goldsmith has asked, why did Snowden’s devotion to the Constitution require him to disclose details of how we spy on other countries, how we cooperate with Sweden and Norway to spy on Russia, or an NSA program called MasterMind to respond to cyberattacks?

None of these programs or actions raises any constitutional issues whatsoever. Exposing them makes sense only as sheer nihilism (i.e., Snowden was in a position to steal the information, so why not take it and disclose it?) or as a calculated act of hostility to US national-security policy as such.

Snowden’s defenders say not to worry, Snowden and the journalists reporting on his documents have been careful not to disclose anything needlessly damaging to America and its allies.

But there is no reason that the responsibility for protecting sensitive information involving no crimes or government misconduct should, via Snowden’s theft, have been transferred from US officials to assorted reporters and editors.