Congress Can And Should Protect Ed Snowden And Thank Him For Revealing Government Overreach

from the now-is-the-time dept

It’s been an interesting week. With both a federal judge and the White House’s own task force both basically saying that the current NSA surveillance efforts go way too far, it seems time to admit that what Ed Snowden did was an incredible service to the American public (not to mention the rest of the world). The fact that the US is still trying to charge him under the Espionage Act is a travesty. You would think that revealing a secret government program that a federal judge found violates the Constitution would make one a hero and a whistleblower, rather than an outlaw.

And while some in the NSA have even floated the idea of granting Snowden amnesty, that seems like a non-starter in the White House. A report from the meeting President Obama held with tech company execs this week notes that at least one executive told the President that he should pardon Snowden — something the President refused to do:

One participant suggested the president pardon Snowden. Obama said he could not do so, said one industry official. White House officials have said that Snowden is accused of leaking classified information and faces felony charges in the United States, and that he should be returned as soon as possible to the United States, “where he will be accorded full due process and protections.”

However, Paul Levy, over at Public Citizen, has another suggestion, in which Congress could pass a bill of non-attainder to protect Snowden:

Whatever happens as a result of Judge Leon’s decision this week and whatever comes of today’s recommendations from the intelligence review panel, we cannot forget who it was who helped our country get to the stage of having this debate, not to speak of the personal price he has had to pay as a whistleblower — turning to foreign dictatorships for refuge. We should be treating him as a hero for what he did, and Congress can do something about it.

The constitution bars a bill of attainder — a law declaring that a particular individual is guilty of a crime. But there is no reason why Congress cannot enact a bill of non-attainder: a statute declaring retroactively that Edward Snowden is not guilty of any crime for what he has done to date, and forbidding the government from prosecuting him fo rpast conduct. Surely we own him that much for what he has done for us.

It’s an interesting idea, and one that seems highly unlikely to happen — especially as many in Congress stupidly are still referring to Snowden as a “traitor.” But, there does seem to be growing support in Congress for real reforms over the surveillance efforts, and one would hope that those who are in support of such changes could also see why they ought to make a strong effort to protect the person who made those changes possible.

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Comments on “Congress Can And Should Protect Ed Snowden And Thank Him For Revealing Government Overreach”

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out_of_the_blue says:

Well, WashPo has a different take: Snowden being written out:

Edward Snowden doesn?t show up once in Google?s list of top 2013 searches

While the details of the Snowden saga may have gripped civil liberties advocates and Internet policy types ? and although Snowden himself clearly thinks he’s still a major subject of debate ? the rest of the world seems to think otherwise.

Now, in MY view, the WashPo item is totally consistent with Snowden “leak” as limited hangout intelligence psyop just to inform the dolts how much surveillance they’re under. Sure, I recognize that Snowden MIGHT be genuine, but the lack of frantic efforts to grab him — either US or other countries — is strong indication that all the real spies regard him as of no importance. And now WashPo says exactly that. Even Mike is straining to find an item of interest in the alleged 50,000 pages, which Glenn Greenwald is sitting on to monetize for his own gain rather than public interest… SO, HMM. — Except for those who WISH to believe in Snowden, there’s STILL nothing I didn’t know years ago.

Can Mike pass the Turing Test? Is he human or a Mimeograph? Well, just try to pin him down on any more complex than what he had for lunch! That’s one of the sports here.


Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Well, WashPo has a different take: Snowden being written out:

… the rest of the world seems to think otherwise.

Really? ABC’s Barbara Walters wanted to make Snowden “The Most Fascinating Person of 2013”, but the execs at ABC overruled her, probably because he wouldn’t grant an actual interview.

Snowden is also the front runner for Time Magazine’s Person of the Year too.

Dunno about you, but that seems to imply that people ARE talking about Snowden quite a bit.

DP says:

Re: Well, WashPo has a different take: Snowden being written out:

Well….there goes good ol’ OOTB again – thinking he’s producing an intellectually stimulating dose of devil’s advocate but, in reality, confirming what little amount of brain capacity he actually has by resorting to jibes and insults. This attitude is usually the product of mindless cretins who have nothing to contribute and only really just want to stir up the cattle excrement for the sake of it. Gives you some sort of cheap thrill does it, OOTB?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

? give them more tools?

They’ve already used the tool.

?Senate Approves Telecom Amnesty, Expands Domestic Spying Powers?, by Ryan Single, Wired: Threat Level, July 2008

The U.S. Senate overwhelmingly voted Wednesday to grant retroactive amnesty to the telecoms that aided the President Bush?s five-year secret, warrantless wiretapping of Americans?

The Democrats? presumptive presidential nominee Barack Obama
(D-Illinois) voted for the final bill?

President Bush is expected to quickly sign the bill ? which was passed by the House in June.

It isn’t giving them ?more tools? when they already do it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

? considered guilty?

Mr Nixon was considered guilty? As Wikipedia reminds us, ?U.S. President Bill Clinton announced Nixon’s death in the White House Rose Garden and proclaimed a national day of mourning?.

Nixon’s funeral took place on April 27, 1994. Eulogists at the Nixon Library ceremony included President Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Senate Minority Leader Bob Dole, California Governor Pete Wilson, and the Reverend Billy Graham. Also in attendance were former Presidents Ford, Carter, Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and their wives.

Additionally, ?Former Vice President Spiro Agnew also attended. A Congressional delegation consisting of over one hundred members was present, and a foreign diplomatic corps of over two hundred.?

There’s even a photo, captioned:

Five presidents and their first ladies attend the funeral of Richard Nixon. From left, President and Mrs. Clinton, President and Mrs. George H.W. Bush, President and Mrs. Reagan, President and Mrs. Carter, President and Mrs. Ford.

Now does nation give that kind of funeral to someone who was a crook?

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

His impeachment and prosecution was guaranteed. Nobody disputes this, or his guilt (except for you, I guess). The only reason he wasn’t impeached was because he resigned the presidency specifically to avoid it.

Ford’s pardon was (and remains) hugely controversial because Nixon was a criminal who deserved to be punished. Ford asserted that the nation couldn’t afford to punish Nixon for his crimes because Watergate was threatening to unravel the US and the nation needed to get it all behind us as quickly as possible. Pardoning him accomplished that.

For the record, I think this action on Ford’s part was both cowardly and despicable. It also laid the foundation for the routine acceptance of corruption that we have now.

Anonymous Coward says:

I wish Snowden could return to the US, I really do. Except, he’s pissed off way too many top ranking US officials for that to ever happen.

If he’s not happy in Russia, then maybe seek refuge in another country. Although I’m sure those bitter top ranking officials are putting all kinds of economic pressure (extortion) to prevent any country from helping him out.

Even if he’s not happy in Russia, I’m sure it’s better than a Federal Prison Cell, where the guards bang pots together every time you fall sleep. We all seen what they did to Manning…

OldMugwump (profile) says:

Edward Snowden will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom

I have confidence in the American people. I really do.

Not in this administration, obviously, but one day, assuming Mr. Snowden lives out a normal lifespan (by no means guaranteed, considering,)…

Edward Snowden will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom and be recognized as the hero he is.

That will be a good day for America.

Anonymous Coward says:

my prediction is this era will one day be looked upon as a mccarthy era on steroids.

at least that’s my hope, because the only way people will be allowed to think things like that will be if these villains fail in their attempts to enslave us and disembowel our rights to freedom.

somewhere in the folds of eternity the souls of our forefathers weep at the tragedy unfolding now.? this is not what they envisioned.

FM Hilton (profile) says:

The Powers that be

Will never agree to it, simply because it will prove they were wrong, and Snowden was right.

It’s not going to happen for anyone in the government to ever admit any wrongdoing-because they’d all incriminate themselves just by admitting that he could be telling the truth.

Especially if the programs he was revealing are finally judged to be unconstitutional in the future.

He’s safer anywhere else in the world but here. It’s a shame that sometimes that the truth is viewed as a prosecutable crime.

That’s not what I learned in school.

Just Sayin' says:

wrong message

Protecting Snowdon would send the wrong message. That message would be that data dumping is a way to accomplish things, rather than addressing key points. Snowdon’s firehose approach may get some results, but it’s hard to justify the means by the result, because there is so much unintended repercussions in play here.

It’s particularly funny watching governments from around the world getting all upset, knowing full well that they do exactly the same things to the US. Since Snowdon only did one side, the US is a big loser in the area of diplomacy and information.

Giving him a pass would just encourage others to data dump whole departments hoping someone finds a flaw, and to be fair, almost every department will have something that can be spun to look bad, most of them are big and deal with so many things. Data dumping is NOT a way to resolve things, and Snowdon could have accomplished about the same thing without having to scale it. With the consideration that only 1 or 2% of the total that he claims to have obtain has been released, you can see where Snowdon’s information could be a stick in the wheel of US intelligence for a generation.

You can cheer Snowdon on for the result, perhaps, but understand that the means cannot go without punishment or without repercussion, a free pass would be disruptive and a total circumvention of US law. That’s something you guys are all for, right, law and order?

Due process is key here, but as long as he hides out in Russia, there will be none.

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