I am going to bring Bowe Bergdahl into this discussion and the reason I am doing so is because Bowe Bergdahl didn't take his oath seriously and he didn't follow the rules. And like you said, the rules exist for a reason. Bowe Bergdahl relates to this discussion because like Bowe, Manning and Snowden didn't take their oath seriously. They didn't understand the seriousness of what they were getting themselves into.
I want to share something a little personal and introduce you to one of my fellow soldiers Master Sergent Mark Allen after he was shot looking for Bowe Bergdahl who wandered off his post during my deployment to Afghanistan.
He recently passed away from his wounds in Afghanistan and his wife had to use a hoist to get him out of bed to dress him. This is what he looked before getting shot.
This is the price that is paid for the kinds of recklessness that people like Bergdahl, Snowden and Manning engage in. See, Snowden didn't understand the gravity or the seriousness of what he was doing. A report given to members of Congress indicate that despite what @Godstud and others here on this forum have said Snowden did indeed have avenues to report any wrong doing by the NSA. The fact is he didn't use those avenues if there was even any wrong doing by the NSA. He got that job at Booze Allen Hamilton because he had his own agenda. He didn't want to serve his country. He thought this was a game and stole highly sensitive information and trotted off to Russia with it.
Manning, also endangered my life as well as the lives of my fellow soldiers when I was in Afghanistan with his reckless disclosures to Wikileaks. Those disclosures gave away troop movements in Afghanistan that our enemies could have used against me or any of the guys in my unit. My sources above indicate that Snowden's data also had sensitive troop movements. I think the NSA has the best interests of protecting this country at heart along with the CIA. I have no doubt they have outstanding professionals working in those organizations and my hats off to them. They are true patriots.
I think American citizens have a lot of misconceptions and notions about the NSA and CIA as well. I am not a victim of any sort. The U.S. government hasn't done anything to me. I don't think the U.S. government has done anything to you either quite frankly speaking. I have been treated fairly and justly by the U.S. government and I have never felt threatened or harmed in any way by the NSA. Bear in mind, the NSA is also subject to the law and our rights guaranteed to us in the constitution just like any one of us.
If you or anybody think you can make a case in court against the NSA then make it. You seem very sure of yourselves. I think a court will hear you if you got the evidence.
"Just do one thing or the other, don’t try to be two people at once." -Arthur from Red Dead Redemption 2