Ellsberg tries to clear his name…
I’m joking of course- Ellsberg is a hero, and Snowden…well, he isn’t helping his case by “revealing” that sometimes one country gathers information from another even if they aren’t engaged in war.
It is an interesting question, though. Ellsberg revealed the lies that were told to enmesh us in a dirty and pointless war. Snowden revealed, or at least confirmed, what was being done to us, with our assumed consent. Ellsberg uncovered and brought to sunshine a pack of viscous lies. Snowden’s leaks make it impossible to lie to ourselves.
Both force us to decide what we want to do, but I think Snowden’s is more important because we have to decide what we want to be: are we OK with the possibility of overwhelming intrusion in the name of security? Does that change us from a people who practices self-governance to one that is governed? Are we far past the point where that question even matters? Or does tacit, even electoral consent to the NSA collecting metadata mean that we have taken back the burden of control?
I think in the long run the Snowden leaks will end up being more interesting, politically. Most people reading this blog might scoff at that, because they at the very least assumed all of this, or knew it based on other earlier leaks and stories. But I don’t think most people really thought much about it. Snowden is forcing us to do so- and if we don’t, that is also a choice. These leaks, whether they come from Snowden the brave hero who risked it all or Snowden the ChiComSymp, are a chance for us to decide what we want our relationship to be with the security forces who protect us. I don’t know what we’ll choose, or even what is right- but I think this confirms this era, the mix of technology and the counter-terrorism mindset, will be looked back on as a watershed for who we are as a country.
(caveat: it is a mark of narcissism to think that you live in the most important times- every generation thinks it’s the last. I don’t think this is the most important era in American history, but it is a pretty damn interesting one, anyway. It beats the hell out of the 90s)