Some NSA Officials Favor Giving Snowden Limited Amnesty For All The Wrong Reasons

from the but-it-won't-happen dept

CBS News has a report, which apparently will air as part of this weekend’s 60 Minutes, in which it’s suggested that some top NSA officials favor granting amnesty to Ed Snowden. There actually are a number of good reasons why the US absolutely should give him amnesty. During an interview with 60 Minutes’ John Miller, the NSA’s Rick Ledgett, who is in charge of the task force trying to prevent another Snowden-like leak, admitted that he thought it made sense to grant Snowden amnesty:

JOHN MILLER: He’s already said, “If I got amnesty, I would come back.” Given the potential damage to national security, what would your thought on making a deal be?

RICK LEDGETT: So, my personal view is, yes, it’s worth having a conversation about. I would need assurances that the remainder of the data could be secured, and my bar for those assurances would be very high. It would be more than just an assertion on his part.

Of course, note the “assurances” necessary. He’d basically have to agree that the “remainder of the data could be secured” and that’s clearly not even remotely possible, since those documents have been spread out to a number of third parties already. The reason for granting amnesty is as a recognition that Snowden was, in fact, a whistleblower, who exposed an agency that had gone way too far and then directly lied to Congress about it.

But, of course, even that limited impossible amnesty is too much for NSA boss General Keith Alexander, who apparently thinks in bogus analogies rather than basic cost-benefit analysis.

GEN. KEITH ALEXANDER: This is analogous to a hostage-taker taking 50 people hostage, shooting 10 and then say, “If you give me full amnesty, I’ll let the other 40 go.” What do you do?

Except that’s not analogous at all. It’s actually analogous to someone calling out bad behavior and then saying “if you don’t prosecute me for bogus reasons, I can help you fix and stop your bad behavior.” That seems like a good thing.

MILLER: It’s a dilemma.


MILLER: Do you have a pick?

GEN. ALEXANDER: I do. I think people have to be held accountable for their actions. … Because what we don’t want is the next person to do the same thing, race off to Hong Kong and to Moscow with another set of data, knowing they can strike the same deal.

Actions like… violations of the 4th Amendment of the Constitution? Lying to the American public? Mass surveillance on Americans and foreigners? Actions like purposely putting security holes in technology standards making us all less safe? Actions like “accidentally” spying on people the NSA is not allowed to spy on?

Why then, yes, I actually agree with General Alexander that people have to be held accountable for their actions. I guess he doesn’t think that statement applies to himself.

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Comments on “Some NSA Officials Favor Giving Snowden Limited Amnesty For All The Wrong Reasons”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Snowden propaganda

Sounds like ‘Snowdenizing’ the problem.

i.e. define the problem as ‘Snowden’ then have a false debate about the pros and cons of this ‘Snowden’. Should we give him immunity? Debate at 10pm.

So for example, NSA is on a PR campaign,

“NSA head Keith Alexander and Snowden task force head Richard Ledgett”

See? They have a guy to tackle this ‘Snowden’ problem, Richard Ledgett. Not the fact they’ve gone way beyond the law, violated the constitution, undermined the democracies OF ALLIES, violated ‘no spy’ agreements, even with the UK.
Not a ‘head of legal compliance task force’ Richard Ledgett.

Anonymous Coward says:

When I read that line from Alexander about people being responsible for their actions, my first impression was what a two faced, lying, unethical, piece of crap. He has been anything but acting responsible for the troubles he has directly caused by being in charge of the NSA and leading in the direction it has taken. It is high time for Alexander to retire from his job and it is also time to hold the senior management of this agency responsible for its actions.

John (profile) says:

Re: Retire - NEVER

He should NEVER be allowed to retire!
Deliberately lie to Congress and FISA court on MANY occasions!
Using subterfuge and deceit to get around rules, laws the constitution and bill of rights.
He should be drawn, quartered, ridden out town on a rail, tarred and feathered, etc.
and then brought up on charges and thrown in jail permanently! No pension, no annuity,
no gov. support at all!
This is the ONLY way to show the other lying ass-holes in gov. agencies that lying is NOT tolerated!

Anonymous Coward says:

No they shouldn't

He deserves a freaking medal and a clean slate to come back home a hero. He’s an ally of the people, perhaps one of the greatest in recent history. He saw wrong doing by some of the most dangerous people in the world with virtually limitless resources. He gave everything to do the right thing and his reward was being exiled. He cannot even come back home to the “land of the free” and it’s sad our government keeps humiliating our entire country through their actions. I’m ashamed that my government has wiped their ass with our flag and pissed on our constitution like it’s meaningless. How could they throw everything away we earned by bloodshed and countless deaths? I would like to believe all of those deaths were not in vain.

I haven’t the slightest clue of what can we even do to fix this. SMH

art guerrilla (profile) says:

Re: No they shouldn't

thank you, he, chelsea manning, john kiriakou, browning, and the other gentlemen who i am ashamed to say i don’t remember his name off the top of my head, are the ONLY heroes i have left in contemporary society…

the likes of feinstein, alexander, obama, etc ? ? ?
at best, evil minions of doom, at worst, traitors to the constitution and America… i despise them all for what they are doing to our country…

but we live in bizarro world, now, don’t we ? orwellian doublespeak HAS become the new normal… up is down, hot is cold, imprisoned is free (or is it arbeit macht frei?), and traitor is patriot…

i weep for our country, i mourn for our planet…

art guerrilla
aka ann archy

Anonymous Coward says:

Saddam Hussein gave sanctuary to his brother in law for him to go back to Iraq; then Saddam’s son shot him dead.

Do you really believe people who are attempting to establish world totalitarianism under the NSA guidance can be trusted.

Snowden should stay in Russia where he can survive and continue to fight the forces of evil.

That One Guy (profile) says:

"If I got amnesty, I would come back."

Out of curiosity, does anyone know if Snowden actually has said anything along the lines of the quote there, that if he got amnesty* for his actions he’d come back?

Considering the reputation the US has regarding treatment of people that make it look bad, a move like that would seem to be a terminally, potentially fatally stupid move on his part, something he’s shown himself to be anything but.

That said, gotta love the massive hypocrisy of Alexander, believing that people need to be held accountable for their actions, as long as those ‘people’ doesn’t include him and his agencies.

If he really did believe in accountability, and that his actions were legal, he would welcome, not fight, challenges to the NSA and investigations into their actions. Instead it’s been nothing but lies, stonewalling, attempts at misdirection and more lies from him, the NSA, and those that defend it.

*Of course what crimes exactly he’d be getting amnesty for is another question entirely, given his actions were those of a whistleblower, something that is supposedly protected in the US(yes yes, I know, try not to laugh too hard).

BobW says:

What a great idea!

Gee, this must be fantastic news for Edward Snowden! AMNESTY…finally! He must really be thinking hard about taking such a sweet deal. Maybe he’ll come back to the USA and post up in a nice place like Hawai’i, where he can finally be free to live out his days in paradise, perhaps with a secure job, a fianc? who loves him–all under the umbrella of a constitution that ensures the inalienable rights of the citizenry! Oh, wait a sec…

Anonymous Coward says:

Even if he returns under amnesty, the authorities will be watching him like a hawk for the rest of his life, poised to pounce at the slightest legal impropriety. Plus, he had better be wearing a bulletproof vest if he ever goes out in public. At least he’ll be safe in Russia, unless the CIA or Mossad targets him.

David says:

Re: Re:

He’d be killed by some “proper” American, like Gandhi was assassinated by one of the people he was fighting for.

I don’t think the CIA/NSA would need to dirty their hands themselves after all the propaganda they have let loose.

There’s always a sucker willing to gobble up all that crap and making his one-person holy war from it.

Capt Cosmo says:

I think people have to be held accountable for their actions. …

Finally, a statement I can agree with. Now start criminal prosecution against yourself and all your corrupt elected & appointed officials in office. Now that we see the scope and understand (some of) the damage done to our country by your lying & cheating “I think people have to be held accountable for their actions. …”

We the people deserve and require justice to be done if we ever want to trust our government again. We want our Constitution back. We the people should not fear our government, the government should fear us. As much as I dislike violence, the only other choice I see available would be another bloody revolt!

Anonymous Coward says:

GEN. ALEXANDER: I do. I think people have to be held accountable for their actions

Points fingers back at Gen. Alexander until people see the same treatment of those in power .. we won’t be buying your lines .. not one lying ,thieving , corrupt public official, corporate head has has been charged or done any substantial time in prison.. in years

Not an Electronic Rodent (profile) says:


GEN. ALEXANDER: I do. I think people have to be held accountable for their actions. … Because what we don’t want is the next person to do the same thing,

Another reason (if one were needed) to keep well away from the US:
The sheer duplicity and lack of self awareness in that statement must surely have created a major rip in the fabric of reality (none to strong in the Washington area at the best of times) creating a serious paradox black hole in the area…

John (profile) says:


Amnesty is a joke.
The administration has so many different and separate ways to charge someone with a crime that Amnesty for any one would be a joke.
No one could enumerate all the separate and individual gov. agencies that can bring charges, one would have to get total proof
that NO Gov. or Fed. agency, no state agency, no municipal agency, no ancillary agency, no foreigh gov. agency would or could bring charges.
And even then I would NOT believe them.
Stay where you are and stay relatively free and safe, remember what happened to Bradley Manning!

john (user link) says:

lying to congress

>”Actions like… Lying to the American public?”

thats not illegal, only immoral.

lying to congress, however, is an actual felony…. and there is video publicly available of Mr Alexander directly lying to congress.

yet he has never been and most likely will never be charged with a crime, and STILL continues to hold office…

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