In the event that anything should happen to Edward Snowden the files he acquired from the NSA will live on. According to Glenn Greenwald, Snowden has given encoded copies of the NSA documents to numerous people and if tragedy should befall him the information will be released.

As the U.S. government presses Moscow to extradite former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, America’s most wanted leaker has a plan B. The former NSA systems administrator has already given encoded files containing an archive of the secrets he lifted from his old employer to several people. If anything happens to Snowden, the files will be unlocked.

Smart move. This may not take assassination off the table but it does provide some deterrence.

Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian journalist who Snowden first contacted in February, told The Daily Beast on Tuesday that Snowden “has taken extreme precautions to make sure many different people around the world have these archives to insure the stories will inevitably be published.” Greenwald added that the people in possession of these files “cannot access them yet because they are highly encrypted and they do not have the passwords.” But, Greenwald said, “if anything happens at all to Edward Snowden, he told me he has arranged for them to get access to the full archives.”…

A former U.S. counterintelligence officer following the Snowden saga closely said his contacts inside the U.S. intelligence community “think Snowden has been planning this for years and has stashed files all over the Internet.” This source added, “At this point there is very little anyone can do about this.”

While there is very little the NSA and others can do about preventing publication of the information Snowden obtained, they can try to make it obsolete by launching new programs or making changes to old ones. Of course, they still do not seem to know the extent of the files Snowden copied and starting over from scratch can not be too appealing when the costs for creating and maintaining the programs run in the billions.

What if Snowden is not killed but merely captured? Do the files get released then? Will the files help ensure a fair trial? The American government seems intent on getting their hands on him, but to what end?