NY Times Argues, Forcefully, That The US Should Offer Snowden Clemency

from the more-people-are-realizing dept

We've certainly discussed plenty of reasons why the US government should recognize that Ed Snowden was an important whistleblower, who should be welcomed home enthusiastically for all he's done -- not threatened with decades in prison or worse. However, it's still surprising to see a newspaper like the NY Times now not only directly calling Snowden a "whistleblower" but arguing forcefully for why the US government should offer him clemency, bring him home, and have him be very involved in the ongoing process to protect our privacy, limit the surveillance state and provide true and meaningful oversight of the intelligence community.

The editorial board doesn't endorse full amnesty, but rather "a plea bargain or some form of clemency" in which he'd face "substantially reduced punishment in light of his role as a whistle-blower." The editorial points out that the claims from government officials, including President Obama, that there were many paths Snowden could have taken to blow the whistle are either misleading or outright lies (especially in the case of President Obama, who insisted that Snowden would have been protected under his executive order -- but that executive order didn't apply to consultants like Snowden). In the end, the editorial board notes that Snowden clearly recognized that going through "official channels" wouldn't have done anything.
In fact, that executive order did not apply to contractors, only to intelligence employees, rendering its protections useless to Mr. Snowden. More important, Mr. Snowden told The Washington Post earlier this month that he did report his misgivings to two superiors at the agency, showing them the volume of data collected by the N.S.A., and that they took no action. (The N.S.A. says there is no evidence of this.) That’s almost certainly because the agency and its leaders don’t consider these collection programs to be an abuse and would never have acted on Mr. Snowden’s concerns.

In retrospect, Mr. Snowden was clearly justified in believing that the only way to blow the whistle on this kind of intelligence-gathering was to expose it to the public and let the resulting furor do the work his superiors would not.
It goes on to list a bunch of revelations and legal actions that are only happening because of Snowden's decisions, and directly notes how "valuable" Snowden's decision to leak information has been. It also calls out those who claim Snowden's efforts somehow damaged the US, saying there's simply no proof.
The shrill brigade of his critics say Mr. Snowden has done profound damage to intelligence operations of the United States, but none has presented the slightest proof that his disclosures really hurt the nation’s security. Many of the mass-collection programs Mr. Snowden exposed would work just as well if they were reduced in scope and brought under strict outside oversight, as the presidential panel recommended.
In the end, the editorial makes a simple point that should be repeated over and over again:
When someone reveals that government officials have routinely and deliberately broken the law, that person should not face life in prison at the hands of the same government.
Indeed.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    BentFranklin (profile), Jan 2nd, 2014 @ 10:20am

    "When someone reveals that government officials have routinely and deliberately broken the law, that person should not face life in prison at the hands of the same government."

    Hopefully tomorrow's editorial will say "When government officials have routinely and deliberately broken the law, those officials should face prison."

     

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  2.  
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    Jay (profile), Jan 2nd, 2014 @ 10:47am

    Just one question...

    What about Manning?

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    befuddled by the facts, Jan 2nd, 2014 @ 11:00am

    You have to realize where and when you are: Third rock from the sun during a critical moment in the culture of humanity. What side are you on, shit or turd sandwich? Freedom and human rights are shit and the power structure is the turd sandwich.

     

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  4.  
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    voiceover (profile), Jan 2nd, 2014 @ 11:30am

    on Clapper

    I was surprised and pleased to see this language too:

    His leaks revealed that James Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, lied to Congress when testifying in March that the N.S.A. was not collecting data on millions of Americans. (There has been no discussion of punishment for that lie.)

    Don't recall seeing a mainstream publication use the term "lie" rather than the more weaselly "falsely testified." Better still to see the Times suggest the lie merits punishment.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 2nd, 2014 @ 11:39am

    He may get a pardon from the next president on his/her way out of office, certainly not from Obama. Seems too personal now

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 2nd, 2014 @ 11:41am

    given the track record of Obama on how he was going to and has(n't) protected whistle blowers so far, Snowden did indeed have no other choice (apart from keeping quiet, and therefore the public, worldwide, in the dark!) than the one he took. the way Obama has crapped from a great height on those who have shown the abuse of government and it's security employees since he took office, he should be for ever ashamed! not only has he let those people down, but even allowed their characters to be smeared completely by the lies his enforcers have told, just so the ones who had actually done wrong get away with their crimes scot free. there can be no justification for any of this, unless the whole purpose was to move to a Fascist, Police State, where no ordinary citizen had any rights at all and could be 'disappeared' at a whim!

     

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  7.  
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    IM John, Jan 2nd, 2014 @ 11:47am

    Snowden

    He should run for congress. He has more guts and honesty than most of the congressman we have now

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 2nd, 2014 @ 11:48am

    This whole episode has shown just how badly the NSA is managed or maybe that should be mismanaged. The reason that the NSA is so overboard is Alexander who should be removed from his job before he has a chance to retire. Both he and Clapper should face the full wrath of the American people and the justice system.

    There is a way to force these changes but it will require the public to tell the politicians if they don't address and put serious fixes to these issues of privacy their jobs are at stake. Removal from office for failing to do the will of the people is the one thing politicians take most serious. Above and beyond any idea of accepting war chest campaign contributions they will pay attention to that first. We are no where near the level to put the heat on them but that's what it is going take. Some other form of heat will be the US corporations profit damage out of the Snowden revelations with a global loss of business.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 2nd, 2014 @ 12:06pm

    Re:

    I would expect that some candidate will run on a platform of reforming the surveillance programs and will include pardoning Snowden as part of their campaign. Then if elected I would expect to see it happen at the beginning of their term rather than the end.

     

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  10.  
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    Jerrymiah, Jan 2nd, 2014 @ 12:16pm

    Re:

    I do not see Obama ever giving a Pardon to Snowden. He has appointed the actual NSA criminals or extended the appointments of those named by GW. For him running the government is like running the MAFIA and has not shown any intention of changing his ways.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 2nd, 2014 @ 12:23pm

    Re: Just one question...

    Snowden has been much more vigilant in guiding the leaks.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 2nd, 2014 @ 12:26pm

    Re:

    They are pretty closely related. The perspective I lack is "democracy". When they are calling for the government to have mercy like that it implies a belief in a huge concentration of power in a single entity. The way I see it, the chambers of congress should be the "peoples voice" against the president. If you keep spelling out how much of a responsibility the presidency has, you are only empowering the monstrocity of an allmighty government devouring democracy. With power comes responsibility. If you get blamed for everything you better be able to control everything!

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 2nd, 2014 @ 12:34pm

    Re: Re: Just one question...

    True, Snowden was much smarter, more careful, and deliberate in his actions but that doesn't make Manning more guilty and what he was subjected to any less wrong.

     

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  14.  
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    Fitzwilly (profile), Jan 2nd, 2014 @ 12:38pm

    Re: Re:

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
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    Zem, Jan 2nd, 2014 @ 12:39pm

    Snowden has shown that it is possible to harm the US Security Machine, without actually harming the US people. This is a more dangerous idea than the information he leaked.

     

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  16.  
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    Fitzwilly (profile), Jan 2nd, 2014 @ 12:47pm

    Re:

    There's nothing wrong with the NSA; it was doing its job as a spy agency. Snowjob didn't like it, got pissy, and then decided to bail, taking sensitive documents that he was going to use to reveal the NSA's so-called 'crimes' against the American people (why couldn't he do this during the Bush administration? I'm guessing Obama Derangement Syndrome is one of the causes and reasons.)

    Removal from office for politicians for not going on the word of a whiny crybaby's so-called 'revelations?' Good luck with that.

    The emotarian left is barking up the wrong tree on this, and taking good people with them to the gutter.

     

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  17.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jan 2nd, 2014 @ 12:58pm

    Re: Re: Re: Just one question...

    Plus, Snowden had the advantage of watching the mistakes that those who came before him (including, but not limited to, Manning) made. He did what every smart person should do: learned from other people's mistakes.

     

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  18.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jan 2nd, 2014 @ 1:00pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Don't confuse disagreement with "not getting the point".

     

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  19.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jan 2nd, 2014 @ 1:01pm

    Re: Snowden

    I would vote for him.

     

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  20.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jan 2nd, 2014 @ 1:04pm

    Re: Re:

    Except that what he revealed is NSA actions considered abominable by the majority of Americans, and that are unconstitutional by the plain reading of the constitution. Snowden did the right thing: he saw that an unaccountable agency was engaging in actions that are anathema to the nation, and he let everyone know what was going on.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 2nd, 2014 @ 1:10pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Three articles from the same biased source followed by an Ars piece that you're taking out of context.

    From the Ars article:

    The IRC logs don't explain the chasm between the Snowden who disdained leakers and the Snowden who became a leaker himself in 2013. And it's hardly a perfect parallel; Snowden was upset about leaks over US covert operations in Iran, which is different from the domestic spying and offensive cyberwar programs he felt compelled to make public.


    Hooo-righty then.

     

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  22.  
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    Brazenly Anonymous, Jan 2nd, 2014 @ 1:14pm

    Re: Just one question...

    Providing clemency to Snowden would serve as a substantial precedent for arguments in favor of providing the same to Manning. One step at a time.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
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    TasMot (profile), Jan 2nd, 2014 @ 1:20pm

    Let me get this straight...

    It goes on to list a bunch of revelations and legal actions that are only happening because of Snowden's decisions, and directly notes how "valuable" Snowden's decision to leak information has been. It also calls out those who claim Snowden's efforts somehow damaged the US, saying there's simply no proof.

    The shrill brigade of his critics say Mr. Snowden has done profound damage to intelligence operations of the United States, but none has presented the slightest proof that his disclosures really hurt the nation’s security. Many of the mass-collection programs Mr. Snowden exposed would work just as well if they were reduced in scope and brought under strict outside oversight, as the presidential panel recommended.


    It seems to me that what the NSA shills are trying to claim is that terrorists are too stupid to figure out that they are being spied upon, foreign governments are too stupid to figure out that they are being spied upon, and the the American people should just shut up and be spied upon because if they aren't doing anything wrong then they don't need any stinkin' 4th Amendment protections. Because, you know, the NSA would never do anything wrong with your data, just trust them.

    So, all of the massive damage that was done to the NSA anti-terrorist program was where the terrorists probably already "knew" they were being spied on or were actually too stupid to know better. What am I missing?

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 2nd, 2014 @ 1:27pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    It also was very clear that his comments that were made on IRC in 2009 were specifically about leaks about current covert operations that endanger the lives of the agents working on those operations. 1. Everything that has been released from his leaks has been about programs that have been around for quite some time not operations where there are currently agents under cover in the field. 2. He SPECIFICALLY made the point repeatedly that the data that was to be released was only to be released after careful consideration of this so that that wouldn't be an issue.

     

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  25.  
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    Rikuo (profile), Jan 2nd, 2014 @ 1:59pm

    Re: Re:

    Hmmm...this reminds me of something. Oh yeah! Didn't Obummer run on just this platform back in 08?

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    CharlieBrown, Jan 2nd, 2014 @ 3:18pm

    Welcome

    Edward Snowden is welcome at our house any time. We can offer internet access, though it's probably compromised. And we have air conditioning, a TV and a stereo. It's not much but he's welcome to share it.

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 2nd, 2014 @ 3:50pm

    After what they did to Manning, i doubth snowy would even consider going back. Disgusting

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    FM Hilton, Jan 2nd, 2014 @ 5:27pm

    Pardons and such

    For all of the good that he has done (and let's admit now that he didn't do it for the personal gain or glory stuff), everyone who wants to pardon Edward Snowden presupposes that he actually committed a crime/crimes

    Pardons are only granted for convicted felons. Last time I checked, there was such a thing as 'due process' and that Snowden has never been officially processed for such alleged crimes. He has never stepped inside a courtroom to be officially given a list of them, nor has he ever been able to answer such charges in court, which is one of the steps in due process.

    For all intents and purposes right now, Snowden is still presumed to be innocent of any crime until that day comes-which, if he is wise and patient, will be a very long time coming.

    The government has the burden of proof in this case. Would they really like to stack up what they've done to the American people against what Snowden did and call it an even trade? Not in my eyes-I'd call their crimes far worse than anything he did-multiple and continuing violations of the Constitution, and their oaths of office.

    Which is a set of crimes called treason, as well.

     

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  29.  
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    art guerrilla (profile), Jan 2nd, 2014 @ 5:45pm

    Re: Re: Re: Just one question...

    thank you, anon @12:34...

    i've had few heroes in my life, but manning, snowden, kiriakou, browning, jacobsen, etc are the few beacons of hope left to us...

    time for the rest of us to step up and be counted among them...

     

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  30.  
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    JMT (profile), Jan 2nd, 2014 @ 6:36pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Those three 'The People's View' links are chock full of outright lies and info that's been proven wrong in the 4-6 months since they were posted. You might want to look for a better source.

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    bshock, Jan 2nd, 2014 @ 6:58pm

    Re:

    Yes, I saw that episode of "South Park" like everyone else.

    However:

    1) Could you elaborate on how "Freedom and human rights" constitute "shit" in any way? Somehow I doubt if I'm the only person in the U.S. who has a deep and abiding love for these things. You seem to be misinterpreting (or at least overgeneralizing) your cartoon philosophy.

    2) Why is it that someone who derives any part of his political thinking from a scatalogical cartoon about children would believe he has any significant level of insight into discussion, as opposed to, say, letting the adults talk?

     

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  32.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Jan 2nd, 2014 @ 8:57pm

    Re: Pardons and such

    Just tossing this out, so I might be wrong, but I believe a pardon can also be handed out before any trial, basically pre-emptively declaring someone not guilty, or to have been forgiven of their crime.

    Reason I say this is that I don't believe Nixon was ever convicted of anything, yet Ford pardoned him anyway.

    That out of the way, I agree, a pardon would not the right way to go about it in this case, as it still suggests that he did commit a crime.

    Instead, what I think should be done is for the administration to state, plainly and without any room for question, that he did not do anything wrong, that since his actions were done solely to benefit the public, and bring to light illegal/quasi-legal actions, and rules he may have broken to do so are at fault, not him.

     

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  33.  
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    Eldakka (profile), Jan 2nd, 2014 @ 11:47pm

    Re: Pardons and such

    He has never stepped inside a courtroom to be officially given a list of them, nor has he ever been able to answer such charges in court, which is one of the steps in due process.


    Tell that to Anwar Al-Awlaki who was put on a kill list and specifically targeted for death by a US drone strike without ever having stepped into court either.

     

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  34.  
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    btrussell (profile), Jan 3rd, 2014 @ 12:01am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Just one question...

    I'd like to learn from others mistakes, but copyright makes it too expensive to see what they were.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    quawonk, Jan 3rd, 2014 @ 5:37am

    This man will never be able to safely walk on U.S. soil ever again. Even if charges are dropped, they will be following him like a hawk his entire life, or maybe he'll have an 'accident'.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Jan 3rd, 2014 @ 5:50am

    Re:

    The sad/scary thing is, the NSA/Government wouldn't have to do a thing, there's sure to be more than enough 'patriots' who would be more than happy to take a shot, literally, at Snowden for 'betraying the country' that they wouldn't have to do a thing besides stand back and let it happen.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jan 3rd, 2014 @ 9:41am

    Re: Pardons and such

    Pardons are only granted for convicted felons.


    Not true. Many Presidential pardons have been granted to people who haven't been convicted of anything.

     

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  38.  
    identicon
    FM HIlton, Jan 3rd, 2014 @ 6:12pm

    List of Presidential Pardons

    Forgive me for being rude, but here's the list of every single President and his pardon rate:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_people_pardoned_or_granted_clemency_by_the_President_of_th e_United_States

    You will notice the huge numbers of convicted felons. Nixon was the very rare exception, but that one is because he would have been undoubtedly charged with numerous crimes if he had not resigned the Presidency. It came just before he was about to be indicted by Congress and impeached.

    I stand by my statement.

     

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  39.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2014 @ 2:12pm

    Re:

    That means... Too much se,uritt

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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