Espionage is an act that can be either intriguing or traitorous, depending on what side of the fence you fall on. For certain, spy craft makes for an excellent and alluring literary and movie plot, as James Bond has prove time and again. However, with real espionage, the stakes are much higher than a lack of entertainment. For the nations and persons involved, spying is a very real and often dangerous part of the international landscape, that can result in tremendous damage or enhancement to national security.
Given that the United States is still the most powerful country on Earth, it makes sense a large number of spy cases are directed towards learning her secrets. Here are ten of the most talked-about.
10. Edward Snowden (2013)
There is some argument as to whether this is a true espionage case or not, despite the fact that U.S. authorities have charged Snowden with a criminal indictment asserting such. The reason for this is because Snowden did not provide information he obtained to a foreign government. Instead, he talked to the media, specifically the Guardian newspaper. Snowden claims that he did this in order to expose the illegality and expansive encroachment of the government into the private lives of citizens.
Snowden himself is a former civilian contractor with the National Security Agency (NSA), and was also once an employee of the Central Intelligence Agency. Snowden’s level of access allowed him to collect a tremendous amount of top-secret information regarding America’s various electronic surveillance programs, such as Tempora and PRISM. The shocker, for some at least, is that some of these spy programs were being used against US citizens and American allies. Equally, these programs are purported to sift through everyday emails and phone conversations in search of usable intelligence.
The US government has stated that Snowden’s revelations have caused a serious blow to its ability to gather needed intelligence and that, as a result, terrorists are already changing the manner in which they communicate with one another. For certain, Snowden’s breach of security is one of the most notable and damaging in the history of the NSA, with a point that he has yet to disclose all of information that he has available. Snowden has currently obtained temporary asylum in Russia, escaping US charges of espionage and theft of government property for the time being. The US, however, is keen to get him back, possibly by any means necessary.