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Brooks vs. Snowden- Ethical Ambiguity at It’s Finest


This New York Times article by David Brooks attempts to look at the Edward Snowden crisis from the other side of the fence. A handful of journalists and supporters have nearly enshrined Snowden as a hero to American citizens for his work in uncovering the secret surveillance of private citizens by the NSA and CIA, along with other federal agencies and bureaucracies, and distributing a large portion of their stash of information to said journalists. However, David Brooks views Snowden’s actions as selfish and rash. He believes that Snowden is an introvert that, in this case, did not ask for the opinions of those he was trying to liberate from “oppression” or have a support system that could critique his plans, actions, and goals. This disregard of Snowden to even ask for the desires of his “endangered flock” sheds light on his motives for leaking information. By committing these crimes, Snowden’s immaturity and dishonesty in this event is exposed by Brooks.
Brooks’ view is nearly the antithesis of Greenwald’s. He believes that government has a right to keep secrets in order to protect its citizens and that Snowden took an oath to maintain secrecy about his work. This view solidifies Snowden’s lack of respect for his employers and the citizens of America by revealing top secret information. Contrary to Greenwald’s position, Brooks is completely reluctant to accept Snowden as a hero to the populous.

Whose Side is Congress on?

snowden cover

In this Edward Snowden interview James Bamford spends two weeks in Moscow to get the chance to interview Snowden. James Bamford asks Snowden about his life and work for NSA. Snowden talks about how he came to work for the CIA and then eventually the NSA. He talks about the doubts and troubles he had when first being exposed to larger and larger breaches of privacy. He tells Bamford about the first time he copied NSA information to be released later, while he was in Hawai’i in early 2012, and how as he moved up the ranks he became more and more disturbed, gathering more files all the while. Finally when Snowden got wind of MonsterMind, an NSA computer capable of starting cyber attacks autonomously, and the NSA director blatantly lying to the public he broke. That is when, on March 13, 2013, he decided to act.


Greenwald and Bamford have very similar views on Ed Snowden. They both agree with what he did, and that the NSA has gone too far. They both support him coming back home and receiving a fair trial, in short they both think Snowden was right and justified in what he did. Where they differ in opinion is much more interesting. While Greenwald denounces Congress, the President, and pretty much any other government body you care to name, Bamford is not so quick to hand out judgments.

Bamford very prominently displays that, “the US House of Representatives moves to put the brakes on the NSA. By a lopsided 293-to-123 tally, members vote to halt the agency’s practice of conducting warrantless searches of a vast database that contains millions of Americans’ emails and phone calls.” Bamford believes that Congress is against the NSA’s surveillance while Greenwald criticizes the way that Congress and the government act at every turn.

Greenwald condemns the whole US government, implying that they have taken away rights given in the Constitution (4th amendment) and the Declaration of Independence (pursuit of happiness, and to revolt). Giving the impression that nothing short of a complete overhaul can fix this problem. Bamford on the other hand believes in all three branches of the government, Congress, the President, and the Supreme Court, to help fix this issue. He believes that the NSA is one lone rouge branch that can and will be contained. While Bamford and Greenwald agree on Snowden, they cannot seem to agree on how we should fix this problem that has been exposed.

Snowden’s Motives


This article is a summary of the lives and possible motivation of Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald, and Julian Assange. It goes into depth about the backgrounds of each and what could have sparked their interests and convictions that led them to where they are today. Firstly, the author of the articles starts off by explaining the “age of the leaker” that we live in. Many of the followers of these famous leakers applaud them for protecting the Constitution and the people, but the author hypothesizes that, “In fact, the leakers despise the modern liberal state, and they want to wound it… They want to spin the meaning of the documents they have released to confirm their animating belief that the United States is an imperial power, drunk on its hegemonic ambitions. ”

The passage on Snowden talks about his adolescence and more specific the content of his postings on the tech website, Ars Technica. Many of his posts are political banter and he actually condemns leakers at an earlier age. The author brings up the point that his posts do not coordinate time-wise with the plan that he stated he had in an interview. He stated that during the Bush administration era he was planning on leaking information because he was disgusted with the security policies of the administration. He halted when Obama promised a change to the policies, but then executed after he saw no change was coming. Though, Snowden was very committed to his philosophy, he needed Greenwald with his insight on politics and the media to put into straightforward words. As a result of the leak and the cooperation of Snowden and Russia, other countries including Russia have become upset with the U.S.’s internet policies, spying possibilities, and how American companies such as Facebook are handling their information. They want more control on internet companies like Facebook and Google.

While the majority of the article remains relatively neutral, the author paints a very negative picture of Snowden. Evidence of this can be seen in how he picks specific negative and sometimes derogatory posts from Snowden’s Ars Technica profile. Also, the author goes on to say that a lot of the information leaked, such as techniques used for foreign spying are not necessarily illegal, and the leaking this information could hinder our National Security. He does not think these leakers deserve any of the praise they have gotten because their motives are not to criticize to eventually help it, but instead to hurt it and try to destroy it.