It hasn't been a good time for NSA defenders lately, with a court calling the program unconstitutional
and the White House's own "independent task force" highlighting serious problems
with the programs, and recommending some fairly major changes. This has resulted in many of us suggesting that, at this point, it's kind of crazy to argue that Ed Snowden did something wrong, and rather he should be welcomed back as a hero
. After all, he exposed a secret program that has been called unconstitutional. Isn't that the very definition of a whistleblower?
However, it seems the visceral
hatred of Snowden has only ratcheted up a notch with two top former officials flat out saying that Snowden should be hanged
. This is oddly specific (and ridiculously antiquated). First up, we have former CIA director (under Bill Clinton), James Woolsey who said Snowden should be hanged
"I think giving him amnesty is idiotic,” said Woolsey, who ran the CIA from 1993 to 1995. “He should be prosecuted for treason. If convicted by a jury of his peers, he should be hanged by his neck until he is dead."
Then there's John Bolton, former ambassador to the UN, who similarly attacked the idea of amnesty, while arguing Snowden should be hanged
"I must say absent some other important piece of information, it has to be one of the dumbest things that I've seen in a long time, to be speculating about it publicly, even if they are contemplating a deal with Snowden some kind of amnesty," Bolton said. "The last thing that people ought to be doing is speculating about it publicly. It will inevitably make it a political football and enhance Snowden's bargaining power."
Bolton continued, "My view is that Snowden committed treason, he ought to be convicted of that, and then he ought to swing from a tall oak tree. But even if you don’t believe that, if you’re gonna say anything publicly, that is closer to what you should be saying to enhance our own bargaining leverage."
The similarity of both comments -- both attacking the idea of amnesty, and focusing on the very specific punishment they're salivating over concerning Snowden, certainly hints at a series of insane talking points being passed around among extreme security state apologists. I expect we'll see more like this. I'm curious, though, how either of these guys can continue making these claims given everything else that's been happening.