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.

Filed Under: clemency, ed snowden
Companies: ny times

Reader Comments

The First Word

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  1. icon
    btrussell (profile), 3 Jan 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.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: Techdirt Logo Gear
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.