Over the last three and a half years, Edward Snowden has gone from an anonymous government contractor to a global celebrity made the subject of two major motion pictures.
To some, he’s a martyr, forced to while away his time in Russia to avoid unfair charges from a U.S. government that was exposed by his actions. To others, he’s a traitor who gave up American secrets, endangered the lives of soldiers and then went running to the Kremlin for protection.
But for all of his cultural import, Snowden’s decision to leak thousands of classified documents has done little to change the way the United States conducts surveillance.
Domestic intelligence agencies are more entrenched than ever despite reforms passed by Congress. In Europe, governments chose to expand spy powers after a series of terrorist attacks.
From the beginning, Snowden insisted that he never set out to upend the law.