Bob Schieffer: Edward Snowden is no hero

6/10: Why did Edward Snowden leak NSA documents?; Trading "The Street" for the open road
Edward Snowden justified leaking the documents by painting a bleak picture of what could happen if U.S. intelligence agencies continued to collect and store the communications of Americans.
CBS News

(CBS News) I like people who are willing to stand up to the government. As a reporter, it's my job to do that from time to time.

Some of the people I admire most took on the government -- men and women who led the civil rights movement: Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr. They are true heroes.

I'm not ready to put Edward Snowden in that category.

For one thing, I don't remember Martin Luther King Jr. or Rosa Parks running off and hiding in China. The people who led the civil rights movement were willing to break the law AND suffer the consequences. That's a little different than putting the nation's security at risk and running away.

I know 11 people who died or lost a member of their family on 9/11. My younger daughter lived in Manhattan then; it was six hours before we knew she was safe. I'm not interested in going through that again.

I don't know yet if the government has overreached since 9/11 to reinforce our defenses, and we need to find out.

What I DO know, though, is that these procedures were put in place and are being overseen by officials WE elected, and we should hold THEM accountable.

I think what we have in Edward Snowden is just a narcissistic young man who has decided he is smarter than the rest of us.

I don't know what he is beyond that, but he is no hero. If he has a valid point -- and I'm not even sure he does -- he would greatly help his cause by voluntarily coming home to face the consequences.

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    Bob Schieffer is a CBS News political contributor and former anchor of "Face The Nation," which he moderated for 24 years before retiring in 2015.