Is Edward Snowden a traitor for leaking secret National Security Agency information to the world?

Or is he a patriot because through his disclosures many people are appreciating once again the freedoms that we took often taken for granted in this country?

Security vs. privacy is a debate that will never end as the sad observances of the Boston Marathon bombing a year ago clearly demonstrate.

But there are lines that must not be crossed. This country was founded on certain core beliefs that should triumph the power of government.

We must be free. And billions of repressed worldwide can only pray for what we as well as much of Western Europe have.

“Give me liberty or give me death” still means something in the United States and the West. Proof of that is the Pulitzer Price awarded to The Washington Post and the U.K. Guardian’s U.S. operation for the fortitude each demonstrated in publishing the Snowden disclosures.

Don’t ever take your freedom for granted, dear readers. Once lost, it’s likely never to be regained.

Snowden lives in exile. Meanwhile, WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange lives behind an embassy’s walls in London. Whatever their sins, they have triggered debate about government, its role, and how governments really conduct business.

On Monday when the Pulitizer Prizes were announced for The Post and Guardian, Snowden issued a statement praising the editors and reporters involved.

Appropriately, the statement was posted in a blog at the “Freedom of the Press” foundation. Its title: 

A Vindication for the Public: The Guardian and Washington Post Win the Pulitzer Prize

“I am grateful to the committee for their recognition of the efforts of those involved in the last year’s reporting, and join others around the world in congratulating Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, Barton Gellman, Ewen MacAskill, and all of the others at the Guardian and Washington Post on winning the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service,” Snowden wrote.

“Today’s decision is a vindication for everyone who believes that the public has a role in government. We owe it to the efforts of the brave reporters and their colleagues who kept working in the face of extraordinary intimidation, including the forced destruction of journalistic materials, the inappropriate use of terrorism laws, and so many other means of pressure to get them to stop what the world now recognizes was work of vital public importance.

“This decision reminds us that what no individual conscience can change, a free press can. My efforts would have been meaningless without the dedication, passion, and skill of these newspapers, and they have my gratitude and respect for their extraordinary service to our society. Their work has given us a better future and a more accountable democracy.”

Yet not everyone praised Snowden – just as many people decried the leaking of the Pentagon Papers four decades ago.

“To be rewarding illegal conduct, to be enabling a traitor like Snowden, to me is not something that should be rewarded with a Pulitzer Prize,” said Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., as reported by The Associated Press. “Snowden has violated his oath. He has put American lives at risk.”

Government Watchdog

But where would the debate about privacy be had not Snowden “leaked?” 

Sig Gissler, administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes, pointed out the stories about the leaked documents “helped stimulate the very important discussion about the balance between privacy and security, and that discussion is still going on.”

Some changes have been made as a result, and if nothing else many people are now more aware of just how much their freedoms are at risk – every day – as technology becomes an even more powerful tool.

The free press remains crucial to monitoring what’s taking place in government.

Where would the United States be today without it?

Probably still a colony.