I’ve noticed that in an effort to discredit Edward Snowden many are trying to create a new standard for the term “whistle-blower” so they can deny him the title. According to people such as Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, a whistle-blower must reveal “wrongdoing, corruption, illegal activity.” Apparently, revealing the existence of secret programs with serious potential for abuse is not good enough.
"whistleblower" is person who reveals wrongdoing, corruption, illegal activity. none of this applies here even if you oppose USG policy
— Richard N. Haass (@RichardHaass) June 9, 2013
Even using this standard Snowden’s actions have already technically revealed illegal activity. This can be proven without even engaging in a debate about whether the programs revealed have been operating in a fully legal manner.
Perjury is a crime and misleading Congress while it is trying to engage in oversight of the executive branch is very serious wrongdoing. By revealing that the NSA has been secretly collecting data on millions of Americans Snowden proved that Director of National Intelligence General James Clapper’s prepared answers to Congress were false.
While Clapper currently engaged in extremely semantic hair splitting to make the case he didn’t actually lie but simply answered the question in the “least untruthful manner,” it is clear that Snowden’s actions exposed what was at least potentially a criminal act by a top government official. Regardless if a case is actually brought against Clapper, a serious potential act of wrongdoing was brought to light by this leak.
If exposing illegal activity is going to be declared the threshold necessary to earn the title of “whistle-blower,” then Snowden has technically crossed over.