If speculation that Edward Snowden's disclosure of the meta-data grab of individual phone calls, and other digital communications, of both U.S. citizens and foreign 'aliens' (to use the word Americans prefer) is somehow linked to collaboration with the Chinese government, not only is it one of the most brilliant diplomatic moves in geopolitical history; it also demonstrates a level of regal snubbing of the U.S. by the Chinese, at the precise time of the face-to-face meeting of Obama and the Chinese premier.
On the other hand, Snowden's whistle-blowing escapade will be the subject of intense legal, diplomatic and political debate for weeks, perhaps months...possibly even years.
Daniel Ellsberg's escapade with the Pentagon Papers is still evoked by journalists covering the Snowden story decades after the events that brough Ellsberg to public notoriety.
Listening to both sides debate whether Snowden is an American hero, or a man guilt of high treason, on progams such as NPR's On Point with Tom Ashbrook, one has to wonder if the American public discourse can accept a reality of more than two options. It was Simon and Garfunkel's song "Kodachrome" that elevated colours and coloured pictures to the top of the American 'hit parade'. Nevertheless, it is the American political culture that seems to permit only black-and-white positions on everything from Obama's presidency to the IRS's trolling for information, to the Justice Department's search of the phone records of American journalists to the status of Mr. Snowden.
Bi-polarity, borderline personality, walking a fine line between neurosis and psychosis, is something the American public mindset seems only capable of sustaining. There is so little subtlety in the American public consciousness as to render those who seek a more detailed and a more nuanced and a more realistic view on all public issues, not to mention private and personal issues, that one wonders if this 'state of mind' is the result of the decade-plus of intense defensiveness evoked by Islamic terrorists who "would destroy us" if they could, or whether that mind-set was embedded in the American collective consciousness from the beginning of the nation's founding on the battlefield.
Winning and losing is a concept at the heart of the American psyche; and the only acceptable goal is winning. Everything for every person, family, school, corporation, politician and political party, not to mention every journalist is about winning, or facing the humiliation of losing....and when the world is seen through such a lens, there are very few options.
Let's back up a bit and shine a wider and more inclusive lens on the Snowden story; he is neither a hero nor a traitor. He is an ordinary human being with a perspective on the degree to which the American intelligence community can and will go to "secure" its own national security....and legitimately wonders if that pursuit does in fact compromise the very security he has been employed to protect, along with the uber-machinery that the government has set up to fight the terrorists since 9/11.
That is, as the president has said, a debate worth having and we might add, long overdue, even though those in Congress have been kept abreast of the various complexities of the various intelligence-gathering programs since their inception. However, as in most matters where Congress has "oversight" such oversight, for example, with the FISA court, has refused but one application for invasive tactics since its establishment. So, the matter of Congressional oversight of intelligence-gathering by the U.S. government is little more than a marketing ploy....a veneer of public respectability that does not warrant the name oversight.
America, as a country, big, broad, loud and vibrant with all kinds of energy, also has a Shadow, just as does every other nation, corporation, university, college, church, school and family, not to mention every individual. And it is long past time for the American public consciousness to open that sack of Shadow truths to the light of day. Mr. Snowden may spend the rest of his life in limbo, as a fugitive from American justice, in some welcoming country like Iceland, or perhaps even Hong Kong, yet he has, once again, opened the Pandora's Box of secrets that has frightened the American establishment, but also contains the one ingredient on which the country depends...HOPE!