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Special 6 p.m. ET 'Situation Room': Traitor or Hero? Inside the NSA Leak
June 10th, 2013
03:55 PM ET

Special 6 p.m. ET 'Situation Room': Traitor or Hero? Inside the NSA Leak

The admitted leaker of big National Security Agency secrets has sparked debate – is Edward Snowden a traitor or a hero? The 29-year-old revealed on Sunday that he was the source of leaks detailing top-secret NSA surveillance programs.

Today in the 6 p.m. ET hour of “The Situation Room,” Wolf Blitzer takes an in-depth look at his journey, the secrets he leaked and his possible punishment.

Snowden, a former CIA employee, was most recently working for Booz Allen Hamilton as an NSA contractor to the government when he revealed the existence of classified programs that collect phone and Internet records in the hunt for terrorists and criminals. He explained to The Guardian why he carried out the biggest intelligence leak in recent years. “I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded,” he said in an interview. “That is not something I am willing to support or live under."

Snowden faces possible extradition to the U.S. from Hong Kong, where he fled before revealing his identity. U.S. officials are calling the leak extremely damaging, and say it has provided terrorists with information that they can use to avoid detection.

Joining Blitzer for the special coverage are former CIA Chief of Staff Jeremy Bash, Washington Post reporter Barton Gellman – who has been at the center of that paper’s coverage of this story - CNN Sr. Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin, CNN’s Anna Coren in Hong Kong, Miguel Marquez in Hawaii, Barbara Starr and Chris Lawrence at the Pentagon, Jessica Yellin from the White House, and more.

What do you think? Is Snowden a traitor or a hero?

soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. Perk

    Where are Snowdens US lawyers ?

    July 4, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
  2. Y Walk

    He is a traitor, lock him up and throw the key away

    June 13, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
  3. ntp

    The government does not have the right to collect data willy nilly. Even if they say that they are nor " listening" to specific conversations, what is to stop them?
    We can not forever be living in the shadows of fear so we give up the fundamental rights ensured to us by country's constitution. Case in point, even with all this data they were not able to stop Tsarnaev brothers in Boston. Therefore this scheme has limited value.
    Stop persecuting this guy and acknowledge the service he has rendered to the nation.

    June 12, 2013 at 11:48 am |
  4. Jim Thomas

    He is both.During war he would be shot for being a traitor.In this day where we have such a crooked government we need people like him as the news media is and does NOT tell the AMERICAN people the truth.I can't say he is a hero but at least he has the guts to stand up to our totally crummy government and I am talking about city,state,county and most of all federal.The are all communistic,socialistic scumbags that need to all be replaced now.Jim Thomas Phx.Az.

    June 11, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
  5. William E. Cormier III

    Under most circumstances, I would say traitor, HOWEVER, millions of telephone records obtained illegally, obvious cover-ups, and flat out assaults on multiple amendments shows, to me, a president who should be removed from office for crimes against the constitution, moreover congress is letting him get away with it, for political reasons, dems say w/ him as president "we are in power now", and the G.O.P. says he is doing such a horrible job, we're (republicans) shoo-ins for the presidency in 2016, so to answer your question, PEOPLE IN POWER WILL ALWAYS, AT LEAST TRY, TO PUNISH WHISTLE BLOWERS,that's what gov'ts do when they get too powerful, NO, IT WOULD BE TREASON IF HE DIDN'T SPEAK-UP

    June 11, 2013 at 8:27 am |
  6. Conservatus Carnifex

    Traitor who has committed treason. Those who are calling him a hero- particularly on this thread- should be ashamed, considering this very segment on CNN had a former official from the NSA who had higher clearance than Snowden on, and he debunked all of Snowden's lies.

    The level of naivety and ignorance regarding this issue is staggering on behalf of so many people. Apparently they won't be satisfied until their mundane lives are utterly secret, while others like myself are getting blown up with 80,000 at an NFL football game because our government will not have the information necessary to prevent such an attack that is ALWAYS on the horizon. Then again, the new American attitude is to let fellow citizens die as long as you aren't personally inconvenienced in any way. Our right to live trumps your right to "privacy" (particularly when your privacy isn't impacted, as in this case.)

    Of course, no one can list a single example of their rights being limited in an inappropriate way as an American (since the nation has ALWAYS performed surveillance upon its citizens- be it by computer program or by an agent in the local pub eavesdropping on town gossip when we were first founded.) You can not run a nation without keeping dibs on the people, since threats come from domestic sources more often than foreign.

    Lastly, there has been no "wiretapping"- collection of metadata is not the content of your calls. It is a collection of information that can create patterns that are actionable. Under the Obama administration, the system was moved to legal status with judicial oversight, meaning the system was approved by Congress and requires a warrant and judge's approval for any actual wiretapping to occur- unlike the illegal wiretapping and lack of judicial oversight under Bush.

    June 10, 2013 at 11:05 pm |
  7. justice

    True hero... thank you Edward you give me hope !

    June 10, 2013 at 9:21 pm |
  8. c...s

    True Hero, in our silenced sheeplike society whistleblowers are needed. funny how quickly CNN proves its state media intention. No tough questions of any goverment official. Simply informing the masses, how fucked this guy is and there is nothing we can do to stop it "We the people" No true patriot or revolutionary has ever been percieved as anything other than a criminal to the government or organization it was standing against. This dates back pre-jesus remember that.

    June 10, 2013 at 6:58 pm |
  9. monica goldstein

    tell us the four categories we American citzens are listed in one through four

    June 10, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
  10. Richard Williams

    Not only a traitor, but he works for a private company. What other uses does that company have for the leaky information?

    June 10, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
  11. Jan

    What we need to hear played on CNN is what Senator and candidate Obama said about this type of surveillance as he was busy bashing Pres. Bush. Someone should remind the President about what he said then and what he is doing now. This President has a bad habit of doing that. He was fully engaged in running down Pres. bush for the exact same stuff that Mr. Obama himself is doing now. Now that is the height of hypocrisy, something this President is a master at.

    June 10, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
  12. veritas

    this is how freedom dies with thunderous applause

    June 10, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
  13. LC Wade

    Don't know about hero but courageous yes. In a country that is increasingly attacking citizens for outting gov't wrong doing what he did was a brave act. Some say he should have done it the "proper" way. I say the gov't has tried to prosecute everyone who did it the "proper" way as well and kept the info hidden. What does a concerned citizen who has access to the truth as they watch gov't officials LIE to do?

    June 10, 2013 at 5:34 pm |
  14. kay

    He is a traitor. He stole and ran off to HongKong,China. The lady on during the 5-5:30 is do all wet and doesn't know law.

    June 10, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
  15. John in CA

    Time to have a national debate to repeal this portion of the Patriot Act. It violates every citizen's constitutional right to privacy and protections from unreasonable searches. You don't need a court order to review it although that would be seizure. You just need a rogue dancing through the voice or text data linked to a number in the meta file.

    "I'm afraid technology has indeed exceeded mankind's humanity" A. Einstein

    June 10, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
  16. Don

    I do NOT think the government should be monitoring every phone call or email. They say they are only interested in the numbers and length of calls. They do NOT tell you they CAN and WILL go back to read those emails or listen to calls if they want to. Not everyone in government is honest. What happens to this info when a dishonest person gets ahold of it. I think we have forgotten past history.

    June 10, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
  17. Alex

    Hero. It's past time we stopped living in fear of terrorism and surrendured our 4th and 1st constitutional rights, and started holding our government to account. The NSA has overreached, and so has our government through their lack of respect for our rights.

    June 10, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
    • Lionel Akor

      Alex, which one would you rather choose, letting go excesses of our freedom or resigning our freedom at the alter of terrorism. May be you rather get bombed out of the sky why flying on a vacation or butchered with sharp nails at Boston Marathon, than the Government eavesdropping on your chit chats with friends??? Have you evr lost some one you love to a terrorist attack? i sure do not think so

      June 11, 2013 at 3:19 pm |

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