Snowden, a ‘betrayal’ or a leader?

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Edward Snowden, a young man of 29 who worked for a company hired by the NSA and CIA. He used to receive a salary of $200,000 a year and lived in Hawaii.
According to NSA Director General Keith Alexander, Snowden divulged as many as 200,000 classified documents to the press. According to Alexander,the data was leaked in such a way that it did the ‘maximum damage’ to the NSA and the USA.

Alexander shed light on the amount of classified files stolen by Snowden at a question-and-answer session on October 31 in Baltimore. The transcript of the speech was made public by the NSA, and part of what Alexander said was:

“I wish there was a way to prevent it. Snowden has shared somewhere between 50 [thousand] and 200,000 documents with reporters. These will continue to come out.”

It was the first “betrayal” which came to the fore when the U.S. daily Washington Post and Britain’s The Guardian, got the scoop that defected from Hong Kong Snowden carrying around confidential information of the state security agencies, many of which reveal that the U.S. government developed the PRISM project, aimed at espionage on servers from Google, Facebook, Yahoo and other major companies in the information technology and communication sector.

Edward Snowden was quoted in an article at the Washington Postsaying “You can’t wait around for someone else to act. I had been looking for leaders, but I realized that leadership is about being the first to act.” He also mentioned his fear that “nothing will change,’ he was speaking in terms of the impact of his action.

Snowden also commented that “what I’m doing is self-interested: I don’t want to live in a world where there’s no privacy and therefore no room for intellectual exploration and creativity.” This leads to think that he applies Transformational Leadership in his life. As defined by Bernard Bass in the book Leadership and Performace Beyond Expectations, “Transformational leaders attempt and succeed in raising colleagues, subordinates, followers, clients or constituencies to a greater level of awareness about issues of conscience.”

It is clear that with Snowden’s actions, the people of the United States and the world had a vision of what the American Government had been doing in terms of surveillance, just to cite one example.

Jena McGregor, columnist for On Leadership at the Washington Post, said about him in an article she wrote: “Leadership involves taking risks and bravely standing by one’s principles. It involves putting the needs of the greater good ahead of personal goals. But leadership also typically involves followers. Even if they are not official leaders of an organization, a group or a country, leaders typically provoke others, too, to take some kind of action, whether the world sees that action as something good or something bad. Perhaps the greatest test of how history will define Snowden will be whether he prompts more people to also come forward with information, or inspires people who have the authority to do so to enact change.”