“…our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.” – Thomas Jefferson
THE CASE for clemency for Edward Snowden is strong, which many other have made, myself included. There is little doubt that he is a whistle-blower and someone who has done the American people a great service.
Anne-Marie Slaughter, a former State Department official under Secretary Hillary Clinton, coming out in favor of
some sort of clemency treating Snowden as a whistle-blower puts the New America Foundation, where she is now president (a place where I’ve spent many hours), out in front of the Washington crowd.
From the New York Times Editorial Board, which starts 2014 off by making a strong, convincing argument that Edward Snowden deserves better than exile from the country he tried to save from the political leaders who have forgotten Benjamin Franklin’s warning, as well as the declaration of Thomas Jefferson.
The revelations have already prompted two federal judges to accuse the N.S.A. of violating the Constitution (although a third, unfortunately, found the dragnet surveillance to be legal). A panel appointed by President Obama issued a powerful indictment of the agency’s invasions of privacy and called for a major overhaul of its operations.
All of this is entirely because of information provided to journalists by Edward Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor who stole a trove of highly classified documents after he became disillusioned with the agency’s voraciousness. Mr. Snowden is now living in Russia, on the run from American charges of espionage and theft, and he faces the prospect of spending the rest of his life looking over his shoulder.
Considering the enormous value of the information he has revealed, and the abuses he has exposed, Mr. Snowden deserves better than a life of permanent exile, fear and flight. He may have committed a crime to do so, but he has done his country a great service. It is time for the United States to offer Mr. Snowden a plea bargain or some form of clemency that would allow him to return home, face at least substantially reduced punishment in light of his role as a whistle-blower, and have the hope of a life advocating for greater privacy and far stronger oversight of the runaway intelligence community.
It may come down to a plea bargain, but President Obama is a big enough man to be able to search his conscience and work with the Justice Department to make this happen. It’s not good enough to say he cannot interfere with Attorney General Eric Holder’s case, because everyone knows he can exact pressure to do the right thing.
Edward Snowden blasted a bright light on an intelligence community that had clearly run amok. It’s long past time the politicians who didn’t do their jobs humble themselves before the people they failed.