Ellsberg defending another recent leaker, Bradley Manning, last month. (Patrick SemanskyAP Photo) Ellsberg defending another recent leaker, Bradley Manning, last month. (Patrick Semansky/AP Photo)

One of the unofficial marks against Edward Snowden, 2013 leaker, is that he left the country rather than face the wrath of the American government. But Daniel Ellsberg, 1971 leaker who eventually did surrender to the American government, argues today in an op-ed piece that Snowden had solid reasons to flee and that Ellsberg might have made the same choice today. Ellsberg also considers it possible that our government will kidnap and/or kill Snowden if it discovers where he is.

In essence, Ellsberg argues that ours is a more repressive government than Richard Nixon’s was in 1971 — and that he had greater reason to believe he would be safe and free, even when under indictment, than Snowden has today.

An interesting assertion and our commenters were all over this. But first — oof. One reader cites a PR gaffe Snowden made right off the bat — and it colors the thousands of comments the piece is still racking up.

Note: the links to the comments go to the top of the thread in which the comment was commented.


Snowden and Glenn Greenwald made some strategic mistakes in how they handled releasing the information. It would have been better for Ed to have remained anonymous for as long as possible, and release the stuff and let it stand on its own. By jumping in giving personal interviews he allowed the opposition the opportunity to change the narrative TO him. He armed their gun, needlessly.

This is a valid point. While PostScript isn’t sure it would have been possible for Snowden to remain anonymous once the National Security Agency knew that its security had been breached, Snowden’s conduct before and after his leakage changes the whole story for some readers.

SpinMeister (heh)

He had another, nobler path to take instead of the regrettable lie, flee and spill path he took. That was to gather evidence quietly, then hook up with a like-minded Congressperson with the intention of informing the American Public of illegal activities and seeking real change or as in this case, simply explaining how the Patriot Act works.


Making Americans aware of Fourth Amendment violations makes Snowden a hero. Telling the world about American espionage tactics makes him a traitor.


Snowden would have been treated fine — there would have been too much attention. The fact that he’s out of the sight is worse for his safety–not that I am overly concerned. He chose his path.


Anyone think the Russians will give Mr. Snowden an open internet connection?



Once Snowden is brought to justice, a fitting punishment would be that he must monitor teenagers’ text messages for ten years.

Ouuuch. But other readers are ignoring Snowden and focusing on what this case means for our government.

KJR1 evokes the positive aspects of having a big brother:

The difference, Dan, between the Stasi and OUR government is what they intend to DO with the info they gather. The GDR wanted to control its citizenry. Our administrations want to protect it. Sometimes the ends DO justify the means.

And pmk123 is horrified at the government’s reaction to Snowden’s leak:

Have the terrorists won? Seems so when the bastion of democracy and free speech is out to get, at any cost, a brave young man that seems to have more love for country than the politicians that are gradually but surely dismantling precious liberties acquired over 250 years. Only the people can put a stop to these undemocratic measures.

And pjs-1965 says no, they can’t. S/he is horrified at the American people’s reaction to the government’s reaction to Snowden’s leak, and basically says we’re all beyond hope. Stick a fork in America:

The problem IS the American people. Although they have access to more information than ever before, they remain less informed than ever about what goes on around them, and they have not learned how to think and question things. This generation of Americans is fundamentally different and inferior to previous generations, and certainly not worthy of the freedoms that the Founding Fathers established for them.

Well, that certainly takes the pressure off! It doesn’t matter if we as a country do the right thing here, because we’re all unworthy to be Americans in the first place. PostScript suspects we are all lazy and unappreciative and do not know the value of a dollar, as well. Maybe fleeing America is the right choice … for all of us. Or maybe we’ll go home, watch reality TV and eat artificially sweetened pudding cups.