Over the weekend, as Americans were still absorbing double-barreled revelations about the extent of the
Snowden's emergence from the shadows puts him at risk of prosecution by the U.S. government. It also has made him a hero to critics of government secrecy. More than 15,000 people already have signed a petition demanding that Snowden be given "a full, free and absolute pardon for any crimes he has committed or may have committed related to blowing the whistle on secret NSA surveillance programs."
We're not prepared to endorse that campaign, and we're not even sure that Snowden qualifies as a whistle-blower in the strict sense of someone who discloses government information in order to expose illegal activity. The two surveillance programs he was apparently responsible for revealing — an electronic dragnet of Americans' phone records and the monitoring of the contents of foreigners' electronic communications — are legal, authorized by
Nevertheless, as critics of the breadth and secrecy of post-
For example, it was widely known that the government was using a loosely worded provision of the Patriot Act to acquire so-called business records, including information about the sources, destinations and duration of telephone calls. But it was unclear how indiscriminate that dragnet was. Two years ago, Sen.