View the Full List
Edward Snowden

28 - Edward Snowden
Former NSA Contractor
Snowden is the latest example of what happens when a poorly vetted information technology technician is given unfettered access to classified government networks. Like Army Pvt. Bradley Manning, Snowden made off with a treasure trove of government secrets before escaping for Hong Kong and ending up exiled in Russia. While there is little Snowden has released that wasn’t known to intelligence insiders, his disclosures have proved embarrassing to governments worldwide and compromised capabilities that have cost billions of dollars and many years to develop. And it is a staggering global infrastructure underpinned by a web of agreements among nations worldwide to collect data on hundreds of millions, analyze it and disseminate the conclusions not just in Washington but worldwide. Whether he’s viewed as a traitor or a defender of civil liberties protecting American rights in an act of conscience, Snowden has sparked a global debate about the use and limits of of electronic surveillance in the modern digital age. And it’s a debate that is likely to be a long one given the sheer volume of material Snowden has that he’s promised to gradually release over time to reporters and privacy activists. Those documents — outlining spying programs, budgets and even secret presidential orders — have some in Congress pushing to rein in the blanket authority intelligence agencies have to spy. Substantive and lasting change, however, has yet to occur, and if they don’t, the power of the disclosures will likely be blunted.

Opinion shapers Policy Cyber Intelligence