Edward Snowden may be either the most selfless patriot in American history, or a spy working for a foreign government.
Or he may be a confused, muddle-headed idealist. Take your pick. I've given up trying to figure this guy out.
The events in the Snowden saga happened on a day when a Hong Kong newspaper revealed that the fugitive told the paper he took his job with a contractor for the National Security Agency for the sole purpose of obtaining evidence on Washington's cyberspying networks.
The South China Morning Post reported Monday that Snowden told it in an interview that he sought a position as an analyst with the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton so he could collect proof about the NSA's secret surveillance program and make them public.
"My position with Booz Allen Hamilton granted me access to lists of machines all over the world the NSA hacked," he told the Morning Post in a June 12 interview that was published Monday. "That is why I accepted that position about three months ago."
In his interview with the Post, Snowden divulged information that he claimed showed hacking by the NSA into computers in Hong Kong and mainland China.
"I did not release them earlier because I don't want to simply dump huge amounts of documents without regard to their content," he said. "I have to screen everything before releasing it to journalists."
Asked by the Post if he specifically went to Booz Allen Hamilton as a computer systems administrator in Hawaii to gather evidence of surveillance, he replied: "Correct on Booz." Booz Allen spokesman James Fisher declined to comment on the report.
A very conscientious leaker, that's for sure. But should it matter that he took the job under false pretenses?
We are beginning to see that Snowden is a more complicated guy than was revealed at first blush. I tremble at the notion that this man-child has access to many secrets - some probably not related to NSA snooping - and that he is in a position to decide whether or not to release information that could damage US national security even more than he already has. How is he to make that judgment? What expertise does he claim to make a decision that has the potential to expose legal, necessary surveillance programs that actually save lives?
This is what happens when idealists have the arrogance to believe that their individual judgment is better than the collective judgment of our intelligence agencies and elected leaders. If you want to cheer Snowden for revealing NSA snooping, that's one thing. But taking into account everything else about him, there's not much to admire.