Snowden flight rumors obscure surveillance debate


Rumors that NSA leaker Edward Snowden had departed Moscow Tuesday aboard the private plane of Bolivian President Evo Morales turned out not to be true. But they did spark a new round of finger-pointing with Bolivia’s Defense Minister calling the plane’s diversion to Austria an act of “sabotage and a plot by the government of the United States.”

On Wednesday’s NOW with Alex Wagner, the panel discussed what lies ahead for Snowden, and whether his legal limbo has distracted from his stated goal of exposing the extent of the NSA’s surveillance of U.S. citizens.

“What we saw from the release of Snowden was that the program as it’s being implemented by the Obama administration is not what it was fully understood to be by the public, and  even by much of Congress,” Business Insider Political Editor Josh Barro said.

“Snowden has released certain information that has produced a valuable political debate, but,” he added, “at the same time he leaked other information to do with specific U.S. surveillance operations on Russia and China which there is no clear public interest in there having been a public release of.”

Bloomberg View’s Jonathan Alter argued that “if it’s easier for the government to know about us, then it needs to be easier for us to know about the government.”

Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell said  Snowden should come back to the U.S. and argue his case. “You never know, a jury might decide that he did a positive thing and acquit him, but you’re not a hero if you hide out in totalitarian countries,” he said.

Snowden remains in the transit area at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport.