NSA Defenders Reject Appeal For Clemency That Ed Snowden Never Made; But Here's Why US Should Give Him Amnesty
from the get-it-figured-out dept
So, the AP and a few other news sources this weekend wrote articles talking about how US government officials, including the White House and the heads of the two Congressional intelligence committees, Senator Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Mike Rogers had all rejected Ed Snowden’s “plea for clemency.” Given the players, that’s not too surprising, but there’s one big problem. Snowden never made a plea for clemency. So the whole thing is bogus. It appears to be based on a bunch of bad reporting, starting with the AP, who said the following:
Snowden made the plea in a letter given to a German politician and released Friday. In his one-page typed letter, he asks for clemency for charges over allegedly leaking classified information about the NSA to the news media. “”Speaking the truth is not a crime,” Snowden wrote.
Okay. Of course, since that letter was released, we can read the whole thing, and if you can find where he made a plea for clemency, let me know. It’s not very long. And, there’s nothing in there even remotely asking for clemency. Or anything like it. It’s just Snowden pointing out, accurately, that “to tell the truth is not a crime,” and we need more truth telling from the government.
But, of course, Feinstein and Rogers couldn’t resist some grandstanding on all of this. Feinstein’s response was particularly funny because she said that Snowden could have just reported the issue directly to her committee, where they would have buried it. Remember, Feinstein and the Senate intelligence committee have been arguing pretty much all along that everything that Snowden revealed is all perfectly legal — even as the public and many officials are outraged by what happened. Anyone who thinks that Snowden reporting it would have done anything other than hindered any future job prospects for Ed Snowden hasn’t been paying attention.
That said, Yochai Benkler, has a great piece over at The Guardian arguing why the US should grant Snowden amnesty, which is slightly different from clemency (which, again, he never asked for). Amusingly, Benkler uses the example of Congress in 2008 giving telcos retroactive immunity for their actions in helping the NSA as a model for how Congress can give Snowden similar amnesty, noting (correctly) that we already have a model of this in place. As for why? Well, considering how many things even our own government is claiming Snowden has revealed that show the NSA has gone too far certainly suggest that his leaks have been useful in exposing massive government wrongdoing by some, and terrible incompetence or ignorance by others.
Snowden hasn’t asked for clemency, but if the US government is smart, it should grant him amnesty, and get him involved in the process of cleaning up the mess that the NSA (not Snowden) has created.