Debra J. Saunders

Surely, Snowden understands that his release of U.S. intelligence techniques has damaged Foggy Bottom's relations with allies and, worse, tipped off terrorist organizations to methods that can help them avoid detection. His decision to leak was not a victimless crime. For all his daring, Snowden doesn't dare acknowledge the price of his hijacking of U.S. intelligence.

Snowden has maintained that he had to leak documents because the NSA ignored his protests about what he considered illegal practices. Most recently, Snowden told Williams that when he complained to the NSA, "the response, more or less, in bureaucratic language, was, 'You should stop asking questions.'"

On Thursday, Feinstein released an April 8, 2013, email that Snowden sent to the NSA Office of the General Counsel. Hardly a jeremiad of moral misgivings about surveillance, it's a bureaucratic query asking a government attorney to clarify questions about executive orders superseding federal statute. A hierarchy of governing authority lists the U.S. Constitution on top, followed by "federal statutes/presidential executive orders." Snowden wrote rather daintily, "I'm not entirely certain, but this does not seem correct, as it seems to imply Executive Orders have the same precedence as law." Weak tea, that.

It's not as if Snowden doesn't know how to be blunt. In March, he swiped at Feinstein for condemning a CIA search of her Senate committee's computers. In a statement to NBC, he lamented that an "elected official does not care at all that the rights of millions of ordinary citizens are violated by our spies, but suddenly it's a scandal when a politician finds out the same thing happens to them."

It is instructive that the far-seeing Snowden never thought to save or leak documents in which he was supposed to have raged against the machine. Snowden has erected a shaky house of sticks to justify his decision to screw national security. It only stands because it is shielded from the elements.

Debra J. Saunders

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