A government can not operate either domestically or internationally with 100% transparency. At least not to their advantage. So we must have "secrets" and classifications in which to categorize and file.
Correct. There is some information that is held by the government that is required to be held secret to protect not only the country and its citizens but the industry too.
Not all information should be public knowledge, but when and where the government decides to break the law, lie to its people, deceive its people and ignore the constitution of the country, information about such actions needs to be made available to the public so that the public that elected the government is able to make a proper decision as to whether the government that the public elected into office is acting in the best interests of the public and should remain.
This is way above their pay grade and frankly I don't think Snowden or any of the current crop of "whistle blowers" has the experience or knowledge to put our governments at risk by breeching our national securities. However.. if they feel that strongly that they're willing to sacrifice themselves knowing the consequences.. and we can't stop them before they do.. then such breeches will occur.
Well it would be an even simpler matter for the government to stick to keeping its actions within the bounds of the constitution. If it did that then people such as Snowden and Manning wouldn't feel compelled to speak out.
I spent >20 years as a cryptologic/intel officer and during the time held what we call a "TS/SCI" clearance level.
I know for a fact that mentioning such a thing whilst holding a clearance is the quickest way to lose it. I'd even go so far as to say that anyone publicly claiming to have held a security clearance never actually held such a clearance level. The first rule of having a security clearance is that you don't talk about it to anyone, especially not in public forums. Whether or not that also applies historically, I don't know for a fact but I've read books by those that have and nobody ever mentions them like this.
I can't imagine Snowden used the avenues provided to make known his complaints AND waited long enough for action to be taken.
Imagine that you are Snowden and that the issues you want to complain about seem to have the stamp of approval from the highest level. What do you do? Do you think "yes, I'll tell my boss or his boss and something will get done about it."? Doubtful. When the management chain is complicit then the only avenue for recourse in making a disease known is to go via other avenues.
Based on my own experience and my own beliefs.. I just don't feel Snowden and especially Manning acted in the best interest of their country. I regretfully say they acted in the best interest of other countries. And I've yet to see a single good thing come from this. Ruined lives, forever branded a traitor, all for a country without the political honesty to properly punish those who broke our laws with these policies.. What did he expect to happen.. another measure of his inexperience.
It would seem that Snowden understood that there would be ramifications as he fled the USA before anything was announced. Both of them have sacrificed the better part of their lives because they think that in doing so, focus will be brought to bear on aspects of the government that need to be reviewed. They took an oath to protect the constitution from enemies both foreign and domestic and they're doing what they think is necessary to protect the constitution from a very large and powerful domestic enemy of the constitution.
That you say "I've yet to see a single good thing come from this" is the problem. It is a real problem. The president has asked a man that has already lied to congress to head up a review of the NSA. Has anyone outside of government applauded this appointment or said that they believe it will fix anything?