Journalism prof/media critic Jay Rosen made the most important point yet about Edward Snowden in his post, The Snowden Effect. In it, he describes how Snowden’s disclosures have motivated reporters to dig deeply into secret government programs that violate citizens’ privacy, and not just in America. All over the world people are asking what their governments are up to. Snowden’s specific disclosures aside, we’ve learned a ton about how governments collect data about us thanks to the Snowden Effect that Rosen describes. Had Glenn Greenwald not reported on Snowden’s leak, none of this would be happening. This effect alone (which is generalizable to many whistle blowers) makes whistle blowing hugely important.
The best example yet is this New York Times article from the Saturday New York Times that explains how the FISA court is used to establish secret precedents that provide a legal fig leaf for the NSA’s activities, thus illustrating the dangers of secrecy itself. It’s fascinating to see the Judicial Branch step up and provide the same function that the Office of Legal Counsel did in the Bush era.