For months, a debate over Edward Snowden's status has raged. In the back and forth, one question about this icon who disclosed NSA abuses has dominated: Is he or is he not a whistleblower with all the attendant protections that should come with such a designation?
As of this week's federal court ruling saying the NSA's data collection programs are probably unconstitutional, that debate is finally over. After all, if the most basic definition of a government whistleblower is one who uncovers illegal or unconstitutional acts, then the ruling proves Snowden is the dictionary-definition of a whistleblower.
Of course, there still remains a cottage industry of tough-talking saber rattlers slamming Snowden not merely for being in a foreign country, but more revealingly, for the disclosures themselves. These demagogues often invoke the age-old law-and-order cliches about classified information. Yet, based on what we now know, their criticism of Snowden actually puts them on the side of those who are systemically violating the very laws and constitution that they purport to love.
To see that, you can behold this week's court ruling that proves Snowden's disclosures didn't, to paraphrase his detractors, just expose legal-but-troubling behavior or programs that were already public. If the disclosures only did that, then sure - it might be fair to deny him whistleblower status. But the ruling proves his disclosures have exposed far-reaching crimes. Just as important, the ruling is not an isolated incident - on the contrary, it adds to an entire (and growing) body of evidence proving that Snowden's disclosures blew the whistle on criminality by the NSA and top officials. Among that body of evidence are the following facts: