One of the superficial arguments made against Edward Snowden is, He signed a contract, for crying out loud! He agreed not to reveal this information. And he broke the law. So, of course, he belongs in prison.
Let’s talk about some of the other people who violated the contracts they signed and broke the law. People like Barack Obama. Just to pick an example at random, we have today in Der Spiegel (odd that it hasn’t appeared yet in the English-language press, so far as I have seen):
The US clandestine service NSA has been spying not just on the European Union, but also on the United Nations Headquarters. That has been revealed by secret NSA documents that Spiegel has examined.
According to these, the NSA succeeded in the summer of 2012 in penetrating the videoconference system of the community of nations, and to break the encryption. This “dramatically improved the data received from video-teleconferences and the capacity to decrypt these data,” according to one secret NSA document. “These data transmissions deliver to us the internal video-teleconferences of the United Nations (yay!)”. Within three weeks the number of decrypted communications rose from 12 to 458.
The US is committed by treaty not to conduct clandestine operations against the UN or the national representations there. “yay!” indeed. It’s good to see that violations of international treaties are considered with an appropriate level of seriousness within the agency.
So Barack Obama — and his security agents — have violated solemn treaties, ratified by Congress, hence part of the “supreme law of the land”. So do those who break the law definitely belong in prison? What about those who have revealed information that they have pledged to keep secret? Or is there some wiggle room to consider justifications and rationales for breaking the law?