If Snowden is the emblematic national security whistleblower of our age, what does civil disobedience theory have to tell us about Snowden’s case? And what does Snowden’s case have to tell us about civil disobedience theory?
David Pozen is a Professor of Law at Columbia Law School, where he teaches and writes about constitutional law, national security law, and information law, among other topics. For the 2017-2018 academic year, Pozen is the inaugural visiting scholar at the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University.
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Hardball tactics raise the stakes of partisan conflict. Anti-hardball policies, in contrast, forestall or foreclose tit-for-tat cycles and lower the temperature of political disputes.
As Jack Goldsmith explains in a riveting new essay, the United States’s “internet freedom” agenda has been a boon for the commercial development of the internet. Yet in virtually every other respect, it has been an abject failure.
The process by which Comey was fired appears to raise a version of the same professional concerns that the firing supposedly responds to: a breach of longstanding norms that have developed to protect the integrity, independence, and rule of law values of the Justice Department.
The United States is pressing hard to get hold of National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden. But if and when Snowden is apprehended, what then? This question deserves attention, too, because the denouement to this drama may be unpleasant not just for Snowden, but for his captors as well.
The downside for Snowden is straightforward. He faces prison time in this country. Even if his disclosures were well-intentioned or exposed any misconduct, no court has allowed a classified information leaker to escape liability on those grounds.