America is in trouble. For all its vaunted power, it has experienced grave challenges in dealing with a 30-year-old computer consultant who, following his conscience, deliberately leaked critical classified information.
Edward Snowden, an employee of the National Security Agency, gave classified records to a British newspaper about how the United States government conducts widespread "monitoring"—i.e., electronic eavesdropping on phone calls and collecting and reading e-mails—of its own citizens. This revelation, of course, rocked the White House, and with it the world.
As details about government spying on U.S. citizens were confirmed and further damaging details emerged, media and political commentaries erupted around the globe. Writing in a widely read CNN piece titled "Why the U.S. Is Being Humiliated by the Hunt for Snowden," Simon Tisdall, foreign editor of London's Guardian newspaper, called the ongoing situation a "'pants-down' day" for the United States (June 26, 2013). He made these ominous comments: