Has Edward Snowden done the U.S. a great service? There is no doubt that his release of highly classified stolen documents has sparked an important public debate, even forcing what could be a major presidential overhaul of the NSA's surveillance programs. But have his actions-which include the downloading of an estimated 1.7 million files-tipped off our enemies and endangered national security? Is Snowden a whistleblower, or is he a criminal?
John Donvan is a correspondent for ABC News Nightline. He has served as ABC White House Correspondent, along with postings in Moscow, London, Jerusalem and Amman.
Daniel Ellsberg, a former U.S. military analyst employed by the RAND Corporation, sparked a national controversy in 1971 when he released the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times.
The Pentagon Papers revealed that the government knew early on that the Vietnam War was not likely winnable and would lead to many times more casualties than ever admitted. After failing to persuade a few U.S. Senators to release the papers on the Senate floor, Ellsberg decided to risk prison and leaked the documents to the New York Times. Ellsberg went underground for 16 days before turning himself in. Fortunately, the charges against him were eventually dropped due to gross government misconduct and illegal evidence gathering by the Nixon administration and the notorious White House "Plumbers Unit."
These efforts included breaking into Ellsberg's psychiatrist's office and were undertaken directly by the Nixon White House to smear and discredit Ellsberg in the news media in retaliation for his Pentagon Papers whistleblowing.
Andrew C. McCarthy
For 18 years, Mr. McCarthy was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York where he led the terrorism prosecution against Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and eleven others in connection with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and a plot to bomb New York City landmarks. He served as the Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District's satellite office and also supervised the Office's Command Post near Ground Zero in New York City following the 9/11 attacks.
Mr. McCarthy is the recipient of numerous awards including the Justice Department's highest honors: the Attorney General's Exceptional Service Award and the Distinguished Service Award. In 2004, he served as a Special Assistant to Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz.
Ben Wizner, legal adviser to Edward Snowden, is the director of the ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project, which is dedicated to protecting and expanding the First Amendment freedoms of expression, association, and inquiry; expanding the right to privacy and increasing the control that individuals have over their personal information; and ensuring that civil liberties are enhanced rather than compromised by new advances in science and technology. He has litigated numerous cases involving post-9/11 civil liberties abuses, including challenges to airport security policies, government watchlists, extraordinary rendition, and torture. He has appeared regularly in the media, testified before Congress, and traveled several times to Guantánamo Bay to monitor military commission proceedings. Ben is a graduate of Harvard College and New York University School of Law and was a law clerk to the Hon. Stephen Reinhardt of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.
Robert James Woolsey
R. James Woolsey is chairman of Woolsey Partners LLC and former United States Director of Central Intelligence, heading the Central Intelligence Agency and the U.S. Intelligence Community.
Specializing in a range of alternative energy and security issues, Woolsey serves in various capacities at VantagePoint Venture Partners, Paladin Capital Group and the law firm Goodwin Procter. Previously, he was a vice president and officer of Booz Allen Hamilton, and a partner at the law firm Shea & Gardner (now Goodwin Procter) in Washington, D.C., where he practiced for 22 years in the fields of civil litigation, arbitration and mediation.
Including his Central Intelligence tenure, Woolsey served in the U.S. government on five different occasions, holding presidential appointments in two Republican and two Democratic administrations. He was ambassador to the Negotiation on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, under secretary of the Navy, general counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services and part-time delegate at large to the U.S.–Soviet Strategic Arms Reduction Talks (START) and Nuclear and Space Arms Talks (NST). As an officer in the U.S. Army, he was an adviser on the U.S. delegation to the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT I).
Woolsey serves on a range of government, corporate, and nonprofit advisory boards, chairing several, and has served in the past as a member of boards of directors of a number of publicly and privately held companies, generally in fields related to technology and security. He is a frequent contributor of articles to major publications, and gives public speeches and media interviews on the subjects of foreign affairs, defense, energy, and intelligence. Having received his bachelor's degree from Stanford University, Woolsey earned a master's degree at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, and a law degree from Yale Law School.
Andrew C. McCarthy, Ben Wizner, Ambassador R. James Woolsey, and Daniel Ellsberg debate whether or not NSA leaker Edward Snowden should have brought his concerns up the chain of command internally instead of giving information to the press.