Let’s tackle a little scenario: a man has an affair, it is not a one time thing, and after a number of years someone finally clues his wife in to what is going on. The woman is understandably angry, but instead of apologizing the man reacts violently, blaming the one who told her of the affair for all his troubles. After all, as far as he is concerned the problem is not so much the fact that he was cheating on his wife all along, but rather the fact that someone had the nerve to fill her in. Up to that point his life was going great, and if only that no-good busybody had kept his/her mouth shut the good times would have rolled on.
I think we can all agree that, in spite of what the guy in this particular scenario may think, the fault belongs not so much on the shoulders of the one who clued his wife in, but rather on his own. He was the one who chose to have an affair, that’s what caused the problem, and therefore he is responsible for the consequences of his actions, end of story.
This is the scenario that comes to my mind when I hear the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff moaning about the fact that Snowden’s revelations have damaged the relations between the US and other countries, or that he has affected the importance of trust, or some other such nonsense.
Just as in the case of the cheating husband that was mentioned above, the damage was not done by Snowden, the damage was done by the existence of the programs he revealed in the first place. No programs, no problem.
Of course, leaving it at that would make it to easy for all other governments, it would let them off the hook, and the truth is that they are most definitely not the innocent victims they claim to be. In fact chances are that most of them have engaged in similar acts within the limitations of their own technical capabilities, that at least some of them had an understanding with the US when it came to the programs that have been revealed, and that some of them may even have benefited from some sort of unofficial cooperation agreement… not that they want their own citizens to know about that. In that regard their ‘outrage’ is nothing but posturing, and it is precisely because that outrage is nothing but posturing that, in spite of all the moaning about the lasting damage that was done by Snowden’s revelations, at least at the government level life will (unfortunately) soon go back to normal.