Heroes don't hide

NSA leaker's flight tarnishes his image and obscures his intended message

Heroes don’t go into hiding. And they sure don’t cavort with their country’s chief antagonists.

When the domestic spying scandal first broke, we wrote of leaker Edward Snowden that “we seriously doubt he’s a traitor.”

Our doubts are a little less serious today, as he’s reportedly been in the arms of the Chinese and Russians and rumored to be headed for such places as Cuba, Venezuela and Ecuador.

These are not exactly the actions of a patriot who believes he’s Ivory soap pure.

He and his supporters may believe he’s at risk of wrongful treatment – or perhaps just rightful treatment – by his own government. So? Doesn’t a hero stand his ground and embrace his actions and whatever accountability may come? History’s true swashbucklers have done so even in the face of unjust treatment. It often goes with the territory of doing the right thing.

If that’s what he’s done in this case.

By fleeing into the clutches of our rivals, if not our enemies, Snowden has tainted his image and his legacy perhaps irreparably. Now we are left to question his motives, and to wonder what he may be sharing with America’s adversaries. He has undoubtedly helped the case against him.

He also has unwittingly stepped on his own message – which he no doubt hoped would be the massive spying on Americans by the National Security Agency he worked for. Instead, by running for cover in the most suspicious of company, he has altered the story to be about him, rather than the ills he aimed to highlight.

The young man may not have felt safe seeking good counsel when he chose to spirit the nation’s secrets away. But he sure needed it.

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