One of the key refrains that has come out from those who are unhappy about the revelation of details around the NSA's surveillance efforts is that Edward Snowden's leaks are somehow harmful to America
. During hearings about all of this, NSA boss Keith Alexander claimed that "Americans will die" because of these sorts of leaks. But... between those same hearings and other revelations from the administration and Congress, we're actually learning much more about the various programs
directly from the government, as information is now being "declassified." And, apparently, President Obama is asking the NSA and the Justice Department to look into declassifying even more
. So while the initial shove to declassify information may have come via Snowden, the stuff that we're really learning about is coming through revelations following Snowden's leaks -- revelations that never would have happened without his leaks.
So that raises a fairly basic question: if Snowden is somehow a traitor and putting lives at risk... why isn't the other information we're actually learning about the programs equally as problematic? The real answer seems to be that the information Snowden leaked does not
harm us at all, but has simply revealed that the government has kept classified information from the American public that never should have been classified at all. The fact that only now are they looking to declassify it (and then doing so) shows pretty clearly that the information was improperly classified in the first place.