After leaking to journalists a massive amount of secret surveillance documents in 2013, Edward Snowden’s name became both praised and condemned. But during May, his name was constantly brought up on C-SPAN, as both chambers were talking about a reform in the government’s surveillance program.
According to statistics offered by the Sunlight Foundation’s Capitol Words project and backed-up by the Congressional Record, the former NSA contractor came up in the Senate and House floor more than 39 times.
Not even in July 2013, the month after he publicly leaked the documents, did he get this much airtime. Senator Rand Paul is unsurprisingly the author of at least 20 of the Edward Snowden’s mentions in May, as he is among the fiercest opponents of NSA’s surveillance program.
The Kentucky senator and presidential candidate gave a more than 10 hour speech in May, condemning the National Security Agency for its unethical practices of collecting personal phone metadata from millions of Americans.
Paul said he understands the mixture of opinions surrounding Snowden’s acts; on one hand, he said secrecy is important, as well as having laws against revealing everybody’s secrets. But when those reporting to Congress aren’t telling the truth, as requested, something has to be done about that.
Some civil liberties and privacy advocate groups have been holding Snowden in very high regard, celebrating his actions as those of a hero. On the other side, the lawmakers opposing the privacy reform have been calling him a traitor. Even those lawmakers who are most supportive of the reform did not oppose when the government filed espionage charges against Snowden.
However, many mentions of Snowden’s name are in connection with the fact he managed to spark a most necessary debate on how to reform the surveillance program. Some attribute him, at least in part, the newest reform bill that the Senate is currently reviewing after it passed the House last month.
Snowden has been under plenty of harsh criticism, and Senator Barbara Mikulski has proved to be amongst his greatest opponents. Besides mistakenly referring to him multiple times as “Eric Snowden,” Mikulski accused him of bringing disgrace on the U.S. nation in general and on NSA in particular.
Mikulski represents Maryland, the hosting state for the NSA campus. She added that Snowden’s actions did the worst of damage among the NSA employees, who are now vilified for being part of the agency. Mikulski believes the former NSA contractor has done nothing but render helpless an agency that’s supposed to protect the American citizens.
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