ACLU Launching Campaign To Have President Obama Pardon Snowden

from the timed-to-the-movie dept

The ACLU has been hinting at this for the past few months, but with the end of President Obama’s term in office coming up and coinciding with the launch of Oliver Stone’s feature film about Ed Snowden, the ACLU, along with Amnesty International, are launching an official campaign to ask the President to issue a pardon for Ed Snowden. They’ll be hosting a press conference Wednesday morning, where Snowden will show up via video (perhaps using Robot Snowden?) to discuss. Not surprisingly, the ACLU says they’ve lined up a bunch of “legal scholars, policy experts, human rights leaders, technologists and former government officials,” who will all be supporting a pardon for Snowden.

There will also apparently be a sign-on form on the site, which is currently locked up behind a password (get busy cracking that, NSA).

Not surprisingly, I think the president absolutely should pardon Snowden. I also think there’s very, very, very little chance that he actually will. I wouldn’t put the chance at 0% — because it’s possible. But I’d still put the likelihood in the single digits. I hope I’m wrong — and I hope that the President recognizes why pardoning Snowden would be such a good thing, and an important part of his legacy. And I hope that the movie (which I have not seen) properly puts Snowden’s actions in context (though I’m not entirely convinced Oliver Stone will do so). So, perhaps I’m wrong. But I just find it super unlikely that President Obama would stick his neck out and take a stand like that.

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Comments on “ACLU Launching Campaign To Have President Obama Pardon Snowden”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Yes and no. A non-presidential pardon requires conviction, but a presidential pardon does not.

From wikipedia:

The Justice Department requires that anyone requesting a pardon wait five years after conviction or release prior to receiving a pardon. A presidential pardon may be granted at any time, however, and as when Ford pardoned Nixon, the pardoned person need not yet have been convicted or even formally charged with a crime.

Reading a little farther down though reveals a bit of a problem with the ‘Pardon Snowden’ idea.

It appears that a pardon can be rejected, and must be affirmatively accepted to be officially recognized by the courts. Acceptance also carries with it an admission of guilt.

Assuming the wording applies to both ‘types’ of pardons then for the pardon to work Snowden would be forced into basically admitting guilt, which he may or may not wish to do for various reasons.

And of course the ultimate kicker of course is that pardon or not he’d still be stuck in Russia, as he’s angered enough high-powered and placed people in the USG that coming back to the US would still likely pose a significant risk even if the government couldn’t ‘officially’ punish him for the particular actions the pardon would cover.

spodula (profile) says:


Massive security theatre has been a plank of the last few presidents. Its now at the stage where they cant be seen to back off on it despite it being a pointless waste of money. (Among other reasons because it employs a large group of people who no sensible employer would actually hire)

Snowden also showed up just how two faced the US state department where.

No wont happen. Still, it may provide some much needed hillarity in the white house, and as that seems to be thin on the ground, i’m sure it will be appreciated.

art guerrilla says:

Re: Re:

here’s the thing, i realize you wrote that as a sick joke, but the sick joke is on us: it is all too literally true,
the good get pilloried, the bad get dirty money…

going to the wed preview screening with stone/snowden chat afterwards… then i’m going to march on washingtoon to free snowden and manning and brown and all the rest of the political prisoners in totally free amerika…

okay, i’d like to think i have the balls to pick up my torch and pitchfork and march on washingtoon; but i won’t, i will slink into my shit job the next day with stupid, clueless co-workers and authoritarian bosses, and i’m left wondering why the world sucks, then simultaneously realize it is because we are a nation of pampered, cowardly pussies which includes myself…

David says:

Not going to happen.

And the reason this is not going to happen is that Snowden is just the tip of an iceberg of whistleblowers. It would not make sense with regard to Obama’s and his administration’s self-image to pardon Snowden because he really is no different from a dozen others the administration chose to vilify, per- and prosecute.

It just doesn’t fit their somewhat confused narrative to acknowledge Snowden’s contribution with regard to hauling the U.S. back into the scope of its constitution. The U.S. administration is not interested in aiding such an endeavor or acknowledging it as worthwhile.

OldGeezer (profile) says:

Not convinced either!

Oliver Stone has never made a movie about even well documented events that wasn’t 95% fiction. Snowden could come out in this movie looking worse than his most ardent detractors portray him. Hollywood has always played fast and loose with the truth but Stone’s movies are some of the worst. He gets ripped for this all the time but he doesn’t care. Only about what sells tickets. They say truth is stranger than fiction but it is a total stranger to Oliver Stone.

Anonymous Coward says:

If we assume that the pardon was all it took then it wouldn’t be that much out of the question. Since Obama cannot run for president again, he is somewhat freed from the lies and constraints that makes sure we don’t learn the real thoughts and beliefs of the politicians.
This is of course if he hasn’t got any plans after his term is up.
Most of what they say they believe and the policies that they introduce are colored by their party, popularity and what can appease their opponents.
This is what creates the bulk of very bad and very stupid proposals, especially in the tech area.
For all we know, Obama might be a great Snowden supporter who has been forced by his sorroundings to remain in the closet.

Now supposed we had a president on his last year without any grand future plans in places with colored agendas (basically if he left politics). There would be a chance that this person would try to do something crazy to be remembered. It would be the ideal time to actually pull this off, if enough people supports it.
It is a chance that it will make him more unpopular, but it might just be crazy enough to work.

David says:

Re: Re:

Since Obama cannot run for president again, he is somewhat freed from the lies and constraints that makes sure we don’t learn the real thoughts and beliefs of the politicians.

It will still be “the liberals are aiding the traitors against the U.S.A. in their war against terror” (never mind that “the liberals” have very little to do with the Democratic Party). Obama still wants to continue a worthwhile life in the U.S.A., and he will be among the first expatriated muslim terrorist sympathizers if Trump makes the race. Trump already stated that he considers Obama a cofounder of al Khaida.

So Obama will not want to do anything jeopardizing Hillary’s chance to avert the Trumpocalypse.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Bankrupt logic.

Only a fool would believe that a pardon implies guilt.

People with fuzzy logic like you need to stop fucking voting, I am sick and tired of liberties being taken away because you can be fooled so damn easily!

Snowden should be pardoned. He knows exactly for a fucking fact that he will absolutely NOT get a fair trial and he knows that the American people are cowards and will not stop the government from destroying him.

American LOVE corruption so much that we don’t even call it corruption any more! We just call it politics!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

English lesson: the difference between pardoning someone and vindicating him.

noun: pardon

the action of forgiving or being forgiven for an error or offense.
“he obtained pardon for his sins”
synonyms: forgiveness, absolution, clemency, mercy, leniency, remission
“pardon for your sins”

verb: vindicate; 3rd person present: vindicates; past tense: vindicated; past participle: vindicated; gerund or present participle: vindicating

clear (someone) of blame or suspicion.
“hospital staff were vindicated by the inquest verdict”
synonyms: acquit, clear, absolve, exonerate; More
discharge, liberate, free;
informallet off, let off the hook;
“he was vindicated by the jury”
show or prove to be right, reasonable, or justified.
“more sober views were vindicated by events”
synonyms: justify, warrant, substantiate, ratify, authenticate, verify, confirm, corroborate, prove, defend, support, back up, bear out, evidence, endorse
“I had fully vindicated my contention”

You still think he needs a pardon?

A pardon would be showing him “clemency”, but still recognizing that HIS ACTIONS WERE WRONG.

What I want is to vindicate him, that means: SNOWDEN, YOU WERE RIGHT, GOOD JOB!!

Maybe, before jumping at others, you should grab an English dictionary and get your words right.

OldMugwump (profile) says:

Re: He doesn't need a pardon.

Yes, he does need a pardon.

I think what he did was ethically and morally right, indeed heroic. I think Obama ought to give Snowden the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

But what he did was in clear violation of the letter of the law. So he needs a pardon (or a fair trial, which is even less likely).

Rosa Parks violated the law by refusing to sit at the back of the bus. It was the law that was wrong, not her action.

When the law is wrong, doing the morally right thing means violating the law.

David says:

Re: Re: He doesn't need a pardon.

Yes, he does need a pardon.
But what he did was in clear violation of the letter of the law. So he needs a pardon (or a fair trial, which is even less likely).

Holder, Comey, Clapper, Hayden and a few others did stuff in clear violation of the letter of the law and are fine without either pardon or trial.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: He doesn't need a pardon.

1. Change the law.

Under no circumstances, change the law. The only valid thing here is to completely remove the law from existence.

2. Apply the changed law retroactively. As it favors the suspect, it can be applied.

Under no circumstances, allow any law to be applied retroactively, ever. This concept of retroactive application is one of the worst things you can do.

If a law is completely removed, all people effected by it are no longer affected by it. Anyone imprisoned or penalised for it are released and appropriate restitution is applied – that’s it. No fighting by government bodies to minimise restitution, just blanket restitution.

The one proviso to this is that those who created the expunged law then face the jury of the citizens over the reasons for the law in the first place and face appropriate consequences. If already dead then move on.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 He doesn't need a pardon.

Ah, well, I meant the Law, not the specific law itself. Forgot the cap.

That is, in short: remove that fucking piece of shit.

And btw, when you remove a law, or you make a current one more lenient, you want to retroactively apply it to those affected.

That is, you want the current law (that is, the one you are removing) to apply to a situation that existed before, where they broke the law.

Why? Because if you don’t apply it retroactively, then the law that was current at the time applies, instead of your brand new law decriminalizing them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: He doesn't need a pardon.

But what he did was in clear violation of the letter of the law. So he needs a pardon (or a fair trial, which is even less likely).

Very true. The law doesn’t care about the reason that classified information was divulged, and he in fact released classified information. I wonder if Obama will pardon Hillary for the same reason?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Pardoning means that he has done something that is wrong

No, it means he has done something illegal. Which is a concept that is progressively more divorced from any ethical basis as time progresses.

There is clearly a need to restore the perception of governmental transparency. Pardoning Snowden is cheap in comparison to any actual political reform.

It’s a bone to be thrown to the peasants. It doesn’t really cost anything in the general scheme of things. I’m surprised they haven’t done it already for that reason alone. Really all they are doing by holding out is validating Snowdens activities.

I’m thinking this has been considered, and they are keeping it in a hip pocket as a “get out of jail free” card, in the event that petition and organized civil disobedience should end up degenerating into violence.

“You see, we like that Constitution thing too! We let Snowden go! Now if you’ll just show us your travel papers before leaving, we’d like to make sure you get everything you’ve got coming to you.”

PNRCinema (profile) says:

He doesn't need a pardon, he needs realistic charges

Snowden doesn’t need a pardon per se; all he needs is the charges against him dropped as they are currently active. He has always said he is willing to return to the US for a fair trial, so make the charges what he actually did (if you can) and have him come back. The ridiculous espionage charges are what is keeping him away, and rightfully so – he did not intend to help foreign governments with his revelations, nor did he sell state secrets to any of them. And if given a fair unbiased trial (yeah, right), I don’t think a jury of his peers would ever convict him.

David says:

Re: He doesn't need a pardon, he needs realistic charges

Realistic charges are even less probable than a presidential pardon since they would set a precedence applicable to the ongoing persecution and incarceration of whistleblowers as political prisoners in the U.S. by the Obama administration.

And I don’t see a prospectively successful presidential candidate who’d not want to retain the option to turn things to the worse here.

SirWired (profile) says:

I would never issue a pardon to him

If Snowden had restricted his disclosures to programs of questionable illegality, I’d be first in line to push for him to be exonerated.

But instead, it appears that he simply did a data dump of every intelligence program he could get his hands on, include what are perfectly legit intelligence operations of the sort we (and everybody) have intelligence agencies for to begin with. (Manning did essentially the same with diplomatic cables.)

I don’t think we should encourage the “stopped clock is right twice a day” form of “whistleblowing”.

David says:

Re: I would never issue a pardon to him

Snowden handed his material to journalists he considered to be of sufficient integrity, and it appears he was correct here. There has not been a single casualty attributed to the disclosures. There has not been a single U.S. program uncovered that would not have massively exceeded the scope of the constitutional guarantees to the people of the Unites States in particular.

This is not even comparable to the Wikileaks dumps, and naturally Snowden could have chosen to go through the Wikileaks route. He didn’t.

In other words, you are full of shit.

In contrast, all those who have demonstrably lied repeatedly to Congress and are covering up massively illegal operations are still unprosecuted and continue misappropriating massive amounts of taxpayer money for illegal endeavors, and nobody calls for even disciplinary measures.

So we are not just talking “full of shit” level here, but blatant hypocrisy. Of course, it feels nice to cheer for the “winners” even if those “winners” break all the rules. Because they are the ones holding the whips and wearing the boots. It’s not like this is the first time in history it works that way.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: I would never issue a pardon to him

There are an awful lot of perfectly normal foreign intelligence programs

And you don’t see the problem with the perfectly normal being normal in the first place? Sheesh, stand up and be a man instead of a frightened little rodent.

Understanding what is being designed by others against you is one thing, but the murders and corruption of others of others by any government or one of its organisations should NOT be considered normal behaviour under any circumstances.

Chuck says:

Let's all be honest here

Snowden broke the law.

I realize that’s an unpopular thing to say. As an ardent supporter of the guy and of what he did, I hate to say that. But it’s true. What Snowden did was, in fact, illegal.

All whistleblowers break the law. The act of whistleblowing itself includes the release of some sort of information that was not intended for public viewing. Sometimes that’s only breaking civil law (breach of contract on a NDA, for example) but it’s always breaking a law. In the case of government whistleblowing, it almost always involves violating a security clearance, which is a federal crime. Snowden is no exception to this.

And this is EXACTLY WHY we have laws that make whistleblowing not a crime, because otherwise, it’d be a crime by default. That said, breaking a security clearance is breaking a security clearance. It’s a crime no matter the intent, and it’s one of the few things that, contrary to popular belief, existing whistleblower protection laws do NOT cover.

So…Snowden committed a crime. What he did was noble. It was right. It was just. But it was also illegal, and we do everyone a disservice by pretending otherwise. It SHOULDN’T be a crime, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is one.

So, yes, he should admit guilt, and yes, he should be pardoned accordingly. He broke the law for the only right reason there is to do so, but if he genuinely can’t bring himself to admit that he did, in fact, break the law, then he can stay in Russia until hell freezes over.

tl;dr Morality isn’t binary. One can be a criminal for good reasons, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t a criminal.

Median Wilfred says:

Re: Let's all be honest here

One can be a criminal for good reasons, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t a criminal.

Right, we all agree on that, but that’s what a Presidential Pardon (and state-level pardons) are for. Bad laws are in place now that sanction all kinds of ordinary behavior with extreme penalties. People convicted under bad laws, and give extreme penalties, should be pardoned. Hence: Pardon Snowden!

Almost Anonymous (profile) says:

Re: Let's all be honest here

Snowden broke the law.

I realize that’s an unpopular thing to say. As an ardent supporter of the guy and of what he did, I hate to say that. But it’s true. What Snowden did was, in fact, illegal.

Well, it’s an unpopular thing to say because it is not as clear cut as that. Maybe you have the wisdom and foresight to distinguish it clearly, but the rest of us have questions. Is it illegal to blow the whistle on illegal surveillance programs? Is it illegal for the president and the rest of the intelligence community to pretend that we don’t have laws in place to protect whistleblowers? Was it illegal for Snowden’s supervisor(s) to stonewall him when he attempted to use “normal” channels regarding his concerns about illegal surveillance programs?

Also, in America we have this thing called “presumed innocent”. So kindly refrain from calling him a criminal or making determination of criminality until such time as a trial does occur. And if it never does, as it looks like will be the case, well then that’s just tough.

David says:

Re: Let's all be honest here

So, yes, he should admit guilt, and yes, he should be pardoned accordingly. He broke the law for the only right reason there is to do so, but if he genuinely can’t bring himself to admit that he did, in fact, break the law, then he can stay in Russia until hell freezes over.

Snowden has repeatedly stated that he would return to the U.S. when given a fair trial where he is allowed to justify his actions. He has been accused under the Espionage Act and that means that his only permissable defense is “I didn’t do it”. Which would be ridiculous.

He is not allowed to defend his actions under this accusation. Judge and jury are only permitted to figure out whether he did or did not do the alleged acts, and if he did, he has to get the full penalty.

The Espionage Act is an abomination for a nation pretending to be ruled by law, and thus the Department of “Justice” chose to employ it for preventing a fair trial for Snowden.

And the DoJ is not likely to repeat the mistakes they did with Ellsberg where the judge finally threw out the case because the government worked its case using burglary, blackmail, illegal wiretapping, violation of physician/patient privilege and other shenanigans, leaving the judge in a position where he considered the delivery of justice out of his reach.

Read up the transcripts until the case was thrown out, though. Ellsberg’s attorney was shouted down and silenced by the judge when he tried justifying and defending Ellsberg, and that’s exactly what the Espionage Act means: the judge does not have the liberty of performing a fair trial.

Snowden has repeatedly stated that he is ready to face trial once a fair trial is permitted. But the Department of “Justice” has, by invoking the Espionage Act, given a guarantee that no fair trial will be permitted and that the U.S. is not willing to heed either international law or its own constitutional guarantees for due process where Snowden is concerned.

Cosmic gods united says:

For this I fucking love you, ACLU. Snowden is so superior to the scum criticizing him that it’s on a cosmic scale, you know who you are. A pardon is the very LEAST that should be done for one of the greatest humans ever alive, I would give him a subtle nod of acknowledgement if I got the chance, possibly even a non-homo brofist if I dare type such words. Manning should be pardoned as well, she just started her hunger strike!

Personanongrata says:

Edward Snowden for President 2016

ACLU Launching Campaign To Have President Obama Pardon Snowden

To along with the pardon for Edward Snowden ACLU should be working to place his name on the ballot in all 50 states in a run for president in 2016.

Once elected he could then pardon Chelsea Manning and Jeffery Sterling.

There may be those amongst us who may question Mr. Snowden’s credentials to ascend to the highest elective office in the land — there is a but simple rejoinder — when Mr. Snowden was confronted with the life altering decision to either bury his head further down the US government’s rabbit hole or go public he at great danger to his own life and liberties choose to inform the citizens of this once was republic to the extent of the US government’s illegal/unconstitutional surveillance of all electronic communications regardless of a persons innocence or nationality.

In short at the very least Mr. Snowden would tell us the truth for better or for worse even at the expense of his life and liberties.

Can that be said of Clinton or Trump?

John Mayor says:


True! And!… in the light of Hillary Clinton’s verbal public chastisement of Snowden!… and Julian Assange’s chastisement of Hillary Clinton’s chastisement of Snowden!… it makes it all the more difficult for Barack Obama to come down on the side of Snowden, at the expensive of “publicly embarrassing” Hillary! And!… during the middle of a bid by Hillary, to become the next President of the United States!
However!… and nevertheless!… a SURE METHOD for Barack to “win the day” on this issue, is to leverage support from Hillary in advance of any effort by him, to publicly turn the tide on the “Snowden affair”! And a clear wedge that Barack can invoke to do this, is to leverage the issue of the FBI’s initial slight to Hillary, re her use of private servers and a personal cellphone, to communicate “sensitive government information”!… and thereby, COMPROMISE (SO SAID!) THE SECURITY OF AMERICA, AND AMERICANS!
Simply put!… how is the failure of OEMs to produce secure technomae (e.g., Net servers and cellphones!) for ANY AMERICAN, a failure of Hillary Clinton? Hillary Clinton didn’t manufacture the cr*p servers and cellphones being sold in America– and beyond! It’s not her fault that the FBI has “OVERLOOKED” the inefficiency and ineffectiveness of “public technomae” to safeguard American citizens/ netizens!… and whether these are in government, or not!
(Note: the “Hillary Cyber debacle” wasn’t about some clandestine attempt by Hillary… and company!… to unload US secrets to foreign powers!… and e.g., to “Spectre”!… and the deleted emails issue, NOTWITHSTANDING! This was simply a matter of her use of “less than secure technomae”!)
In other words!… what about the rest of us? If such Net servers and cellphones aren’t secure for Hillary Clinton… and the US Government!… then they aren’t secure for any of us! And so!… we should be demanding of the FBI the same “EXACTITUDE” brought to Hillary Clinton’s doorstep, to the respective doorsteps of OEMs doing business in America! And thereby, changing the “political meme_ic spin” from “Feminists Bereft of Insight”, to “Federalists Bereft of Investigation”!
To sum up… ICT MANUFACTURERS in America– at least!– must achieve a higher standard than that being displayed presently! And!… not just to mitigate being an embarrassment to Americans!… let alone, to a prospective candidate for the top job in America!… but, to effect the security that Americans require!
Please!… no emails!

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