By Fareed Zakaria
The most striking aspect of Snowden’s substantive revelations on foreign intelligence is their limited consequences. That’s because they mostly showed the U.S. government doing secretly what it has said it is doing publicly — fighting the Taliban, spying in countries such as Pakistan and searching for al-Qaeda cells around the globe. The disclosures also revealed routine foreign intelligence operations. Some of these are justified, such as hacking into Chinese computer systems — something that Beijing does to other countries on a much larger scale. Others were unwise, such as tapping the phones of the leaders of Brazil and Germany. But none of these are morally scandalous. Bernard Kouchner, the former French foreign minister, said at the time of the revelations: “Let’s be honest, we eavesdrop, too. Everyone is listening to everyone else. But we don’t have the same means as the United States, which makes us jealous.”
The Obama administration should make clear that Snowden would get an open, civilian trial in the United States. And Snowden should come home and make his case.