Edward Snowden and Hillary Clinton have both become somewhat controversial figures. For Clinton’s part, it’s difficult to work in politics without becoming something of a controversy, though her role in the Benghazi attacks goes beyond the usual political finger pointing for some. Former NSA contractor turned unofficial whistleblower Edward Snowden is not controversial when it comes to the law.
As Hillary Clinton pointed out in a July 4 interview with The Guardian, “Edward Snowden broke our laws.” Her secondary statement that this “cannot be ignored or brushed aside” is where the controversy lies. For some, Edward Snowden is a patriot — his action not only justifiable, but laudable given his intent and accomplishments in the name of freedom and personal privacy rights. For others, he sacrificed national security unnecessarily, betrayed his country, and looks more than a little suspicious given his residency in Russia. Hillary Clinton very neatly falls into the latter category, based on recent remarks, but some of her commentary could be construed as political hypocrisy, and a few inaccuracies came up.
Judging by past comments, Clinton would concur in spirit on some of the general issues that Snowden has become a champion for. When allegations that German Chancellor Angela Merkel phone was wire tapped by the NSA, Clinton gave it as an example of when government has gone too far. “I personally deplore the tapping of Angela Merkel’s cell phone. That was unnecessary,” said Clinton to Politico. “But collecting information about what’s going around the world is essential to our security.” Some argue that her condemnation of Snowden despite the common interest is a partly political move to look strong on security and aggressive on foreign interactions.
This may, in part, be true. After all, praising Snowden isn’t the safest politicial rhetoric to take up. Much of the positive feedback heard from notable individuals in the intelligence or political community are from former officials or politicians — people out of the political sphere and with much more free to express controversial opinions. You have former Texan Congressman Ron Paul, former Senator Gordon Humphrey (R-N.H.), and all sorts of former CIA and NSA officials. But praise for a major government PR mess and an arguably destructive force on national security isn’t something you’re likely to hear from a potential 2016 presidential candidate.