Robert Litt, a top lawyer for the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, blasted Edward Snowden for his leaks, insisting they can’t be considered “whistleblowing” because the covert government surveillance of US civilians “complied with the law.”
Litt went on to insist that all of the NSA’s surveillance programs are completely legal, and were secretly found to comply with secret interpretations of secret laws by secret US courts.
Since so much of the US legal system is conducted behind closed doors these days, there is no way to either confirm Litt’s assessment nor serious dispute it. The law, nebulous as it has become, is essentially whatever the executive branch claims it is at any given time.
That said, Snowden would’ve had no more access to the “secret” legal basis than anyone else, and had every reason to believe the NSA surveillance might have been violating the law. Beyond that, there is little dispute that such surveillance is extremely immoral, and uncovering the dirty deeds of the federal government, even if they comply with the letter of whatever passes for the law these days, could still reasonably be called “whistleblowing.”
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