But he also shows that the vast majority of stolen documents had nothing to do with Mr Snowden’s purported concerns about privacy and government surveillance. He switched jobs in order to have access to much bigger secrets. He gave away American technical capabilities—such as the ability to snoop on computers that are not connected to the internet—which are of real value in tracking criminals, terrorists and enemies. To believe that was justified, you have to regard America as being no better than Russia, China or al-Qaeda. He also stoked an ugly, misplaced cynicism about the trustworthiness of government.

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