Normally, to be considered a professional in a field, one must undergo an accredited education and become certified or licensed to practice in his or her respective field. This was not the case with Snowden. Snowden completed his GED rather than finishing high school, and then continued his education be taking various online classes, but never receiving an official diploma. Although holding no formal degrees, Snowden was able to become a technology consultant for the NSA, where he was granted the top level of security clearance [1].

Snowden believed that he needed to whistleblow on the NSA as they were perform acts that could be considered unconstitutional and violating millions of people’s right to privacy. Years prior, an NSA employee, Bill Binney, attempted to report the violations, but failed to gain traction as they had to documentation to support their claims. Snowden knew that he needed to provide documents if he wanted to truly expose the government [2]. He also understood that opposing the US government would greatly influence the rest of his life, knowing he would probably have to seek asylum in another country for a long time, leaving behind his girlfriend and family. He made it clear to Glenn Greenwald that he did not want to be portrayed as a martyr or have the story be about him, nor did he ask for compensation for the damage that was done to his life. He acted in a manner that was selfless and for the benefit of the public. Even with recent legislation like the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, these protections exempt intelligence agencies, offering Snowden little protection for releasing the documents [3].

Snowden had already exhausted his outlets within his organization by “raising his concerns with colleagues, supervisors and lawyers,” and being told he was “playing with fire” [4]. The information Snowden was ready to expose was definitely of public concern as the systems that the NSA use records nearly every online action the public took. Snowden had documentation ready to give to the journalists he had contacted from The Guardian with the intention of raising awareness of this privacy breach, aspiring to bring security to the internet and communications. Thus, Snowden had a completely rational argument for whistleblowing on the government.

  1. Meek, J. G., Mosk, M., & Walshe, S. (2013, June 13). U.S. Fears Edward Snowden May Defect to China: Sources. Retrieved April 25, 2017, from
  2. Welna, D. (2014, July 22). Before Snowden: The Whistleblowers Who Tried To Lift The Veil. Retrieved April 25, 2017, from
  3. Kessler, G. (2014, March 12). Edward Snowden’s claim that he had ‘no proper channels’ for protection as a whistleblower. Retrieved April 25, 2017, from
  4. Ackerman, S., & MacAskill, E. (2016, May 22). Snowden calls for whistleblower shield after claims by new Pentagon source. Retrieved April 25, 2017, from