"...but as more time passes I’m inclined to believe he really is trying to do the right thing and it’s not out of character for him. I don’t agree with his methods, but I understand why he did it," he or she says. "I won’t call him a hero, but he’s sure as hell no traitor."
Reading about the EFF hoodie, and his keeping a copy of the constitution on his desk, and so on, paints a very good picture of this guy.
If you're really intelligent and
have a conscience, you'll always find something wrong with the world. From there, you can go one of four ways:
1. (most common) Lose your conscience; the faster the better. Most budding politicians who make it big and then disillusion people go this way. So too would a lot of techies who become Wall Street darlings I suppose, if only we knew their names.
2. Fight small. Become an activist of some kind. Pick issues and fight for them periodically. Rant. Write blog posts. Get harassed by various governments. Every air trip is an adventure, whose ending is uncertain. Suffer death by a thousand cuts. Basically, be a living breathing example of xkcd 386 but in real life.
3. Get out. This is probably rare. This is one kind you will never hear from or about so it's hard to say.
4. Fight BIG. Snowden it out. This is bloody rare, and need to be celebrated. These are the people who are willing to stake their entire lifestyle (and even life; after Aaron Swartz I would not put anything past the US government, even though we all know it was a suicide it may as well have been murder as far as I am concerned). They are doing it because their conscience burned them really badly. For extended periods of time. In highly concentrated doses.
I agree he had more opportunity to fight big but so must have thousands of people before him like that at the NSA. But he was the first to decide to do this.
So I don't quite agree with his colleague at the NSA; this guy *IS*