To those sympathetic to Mr. Snowden's viewpoint, the information he revealed seems all the more disturbing because he comes off as calm and measured. He is a real person, not a shadow, and his arguments, while very open to debate, are based in careful rhetoric.
Freedom, the right to privacy and open debate are the rare issues that surpass ideology in a very divided nation. After it was disclosed that the National Security Agency was seizing phone records, Josh Earnest, the White House deputy press secretary, said, "The president welcomes a discussion of the trade-offs between security and civil liberties."
That debate has arrived courtesy of Mr. Snowden and will begin in earnest, perhaps not on the terms or on the schedule that the president had in mind. The age of the leaker as Web-enabled public figure has arrived.
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