The GOP can best be understood as an oppositional party. They are for whatever the Democrats are against, and against whatever the Democrats are for. They're hardly alone in this; a lot of older, less-flexibly minded Democrats default to opposing anything the Republicans are for.
Snowden represents a major error in security vetting. A person with as much opposition to surveillance as he has should never have been exposed to evidence of surveillance. Anyone who watches the community and trade was hardly surprised by PRISM since James Bamford, Brock Meeks and others have been highlighting the scientific papers, patent applications and staffing choices for 40 years, giving an admirably accurate assessment of the practices and tradecraft. Snowden, however, gave the Powerpoints to Greenwald which was apparently what it took for everyone unaware to well and truly freak out.
Greenwald and Assange, in my opinion, did great things. They did not, however, do them for great reasons. The "things" are done and the "reasons" remain. I'm not entirely sure of Jeremy Scahill or Robert Young Pelton's justifications, for example, but they sure spend a lot of time mucking about in places I'd rather read about than visit.