“I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions, and that the return of this information to the public marks my end,” he wrote in early May, before we had our first direct contact. He warned that even journalists who pursued his story were at risk until they published.
The U.S. intelligence community, he wrote, “will most certainly kill you if they think you are the single point of failure that could stop this disclosure and make them the sole owner of this information.”
Gellman pauses to add a slight reservation: “I did not believe that literally, but I knew he had reason to fear.”
One more point. Read the Guardian profile and the Post articles and you will see that Snowden professes no loyalty to the United States. He conceives of himself as a citizen of the world, or of the realm of Digitalia. He does not sound like anyone to be trusted with an assessment on our behalf the costs and benefits of the course of action he has undertaken.
PAUL ADDS: I agree with Scott. I would also say that reporters like Gellman also can’t be trusted with an assessment of the costs and benefits of publishing classified material like that provided by Snowden. Not because they are bad people or lightweights — I know Gellman slightly, and he is neither — but because their professional interests militate strongly in favor of publication without due regard to the national security consequences.