Edward Snowdon is free from Shermetyevo Airport, a virtual prison and Sartrian hell if ever there was one. Surely he, Snowdon, thought more than once about, "The Terminal."
But I make mention because the web is abuzz with people calling him everything from hero to traitor, and it seems to me obvious that a single act by a person does not define that person. He may well be selfless and noble, but equally he may not be. Why he did what he did is only pertinent at a trial. The facts revealed by his actions, though, have changed our conversation about the National Security State that has been evolving since 1945.
Technology may finally have reached a point where the impractical is practical - global surveillance of everyone. Which amusingly makes Anthony Romero and Paul Rand the most unlikely couple since Reagan and O'Neill. When left and right find common cause for alarm, it is worth being alarmed. Exactly what is still unfolding, but it is serious stuff.
And that's what makes Snowdon a hero, some say. I say not, though. A louse can do a good deed, just as a paragon can be a jerk. And as I look back on those who defied authority, the ones I admire are those who broke laws and consciously paid the price. Snowdon broke the law, just or otherwise it is the law, and he fled the consequences. Mandela did not flee, nor King, nor Berrigan, nor my late colleague Nick Cardell.
That's heroism, friends. So no matter how much good comes of Snowdon's choice, he is no hero.