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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Edward Snowden: Hero Or Traitor?

This photo provided by The Guardian Newspaper in London shows Edward Snowden, who worked as a contract employee at the National Security Agency, on Sunday, June 9, 2013, in Hong Kong. (The Guardian/AP)

This photo provided by The Guardian Newspaper in London shows Edward Snowden, who worked as a contract employee at the National Security Agency, on Sunday, June 9, 2013, in Hong Kong. (The Guardian/AP)

Republican House Speaker John Boehner and Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein are in rare agreement: they both call Edward Snowden a traitor for leaking classified documents about government spying.

They’re not the only ones who have harsh words for Snowden. Jeffrey Toobin, the legal analyst for CNN and The New Yorker, called him “a clown,” and “a narcissist.”

Legal scholar Jonathan Turley says that misses the point.

“I was rather taken aback yesterday by the sheer amount and intensity of the attacks on Snowden,” Turley told Here & Now’s Robin Young. “He’s obviously far more complex than that. So is the story.”

Personifying the scandal by shifting the focus to Snowden, Turley says, distracts us from the content of what Snowden disclosed, which is that the Obama administration has legalized a model of security that “creates a fishbowl society.”

Turley is among those scholars who think the surveillance program is unconstitutional.

“We’re talking about a data bank system that is a perfect nightmare for civil liberties, where we all are basically being fed into a system,” Turley said. “And it’s ridiculous to say they aren’t using it to spy on individuals.”

Turley says the model for surveillance that PRISM creates is unlike anything we’ve seen before. PRISM puts “all Americans under continual surveillance. That’s a game changer.”

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Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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