What harm has Edward Snowden done to his country?
When Snowden asserts that the National Security Agency listens to encrypted Russian diplomatic traffic, it takes the Russians about twenty minutes to shut it down. An operation like that can take many years to put in place. When he explains exactly how NSA can implant devices that make it possible to extract information even from isolated networks of hostile governments, those operations will die on the vine. When he identifies specific networks of adversaries that we have penetrated and the exact locations from which we have done it, he effectively shuts those operations down. When he and his backers assert that NSA penetrates Google and Yahoo and Facebook servers overseas—when the truth is that NSA may target the foreign terrorist-linked users of those services—he wounds the businesses of creative, successful American companies. When he identifies legitimate, and legitimately secret, arrangements by which foreign governments cooperate with the United States in pooling resources to track foreign terrorists, he sows pandemonium among Western allies. When you educate terrorists day after day with these and other revelations, they learn their lessons, and indeed collection against terrorist networks has fallen off sharply. These are the hostile actions of a self-righteous megalomaniac—hostile to the United States, hostile to liberal democracy, hostile to the West—and it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that their results were intended.
That Snowden also started an overdue public discussion of a metadata collection program authorized by Congress and more than a dozen federal judges—but not understood by many Americans—cannot be denied. But those disclosures comprise only a fraction of his program of stealing and broadcasting classified information that otherwise has nothing to do with the privacy and civil liberties of citizens of the United States and allied nations. . . .
In November 2013, at FedSoc's National Lawyers Convention, Brenner participated in a panel discussion on "Cybersecurity – The Policy and Politics of a Leading National Security Threat." Also participating were:
- Mr. Steven G. Bradbury, Partner, Dechert LLP and former head, Office of Legal Counsel, United States Department of Justice
- Ms. Michelle Richardson, Legislative Counsel, American Civil Liberties Union
- Mr. Paul Rosenzweig, Red Branch Law and Consulting and former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Principal
- Prof. John Choon Yoo, Emanuel S. Heller Professor of Law, University of California, Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law
- Moderator: Mr. Vincent J. Vitkowsky, Chairman, International & National Security Law Practice Group, the Federalist Society
You can watch a video of the discussion here.