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The Clemency Question

The NYT has run an op-ed calling for Edward Snowden to be granted clemency or a plea deal so that he can return to the United States. While acknowledging that he broke the law, they argue:

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.

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. Beyond the mass collection of phone and Internet data, consider just a few of the violations he revealed or the legal actions he provoked:

■ The N.S.A. broke federal privacy laws, or exceeded its authority, thousands of times per year, according to the agency’s own internal auditor.

■ The agency broke into the communications links of major data centers around the world, allowing it to spy on hundreds of millions of user accounts and infuriating the Internet companies that own the centers. Many of those companies are now scrambling to install systems that the N.S.A. cannot yet penetrate.

■ The N.S.A. systematically undermined the basic encryption systems of the Internet, making it impossible to know if sensitive banking or medical data is truly private, damaging businesses that depended on this trust.

■ His leaks revealed that James Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, lied to Congress when testifying in March that the N.S.A. was not collecting data on millions of Americans. (There has been no discussion of punishment for that lie.)

■ The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court rebuked the N.S.A. for repeatedly providing misleading information about its surveillance practices, according to a ruling made public because of the Snowden documents. One of the practices violated the Constitution, according to the chief judge of the court.

■ A federal district judge ruled earlier this month that the phone-records-collection program probably violates the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. He called the program “almost Orwellian” and said there was no evidence that it stopped any imminent act of terror.

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.

If you want read the dispatches of that shrill brigade, you can check them out here and here. Most of it is the usual boilerplate — Snowden’s a traitor, the NSA is saving our lives, don’t be so hysterical. But they do raise one valid point. If we were to cut some kind of a deal to allow Snowden to return, does this create a moral hazard for other NSA or CIA employees to reveal classified information?

That is a legitimate concern. Our country does have some secrets it needs to keep. But I find myself agreeing with Conor Friedersdorf that we can craft things so that we allow true whistleblowers to come forward while not endangering necesssary secrets:

Here are some possible standards:

When the leak reveals lawbreaking by the U.S. government

When the leak reveals behavior deemed unconstitutional by multiple federal judges

When a presidential panel that reviews the leaked information recommends significant reforms

When the leak inspires multiple pieces of reform legislation in Congress

When the leak reveals that a high-ranking national-security official perjured himself before Congress

When the leak causes multiple members of Congress to express alarm at policies being carried out without their knowledge

All of these are obviously met by Snowden as they were crafted around his acts. But that is the point. Clemency or pardon or a plea deal is not obviating the law. It is acknowledging that the law was broken but forgoing or reducing punishment due to extenuating circumstances. In this case, it is very easy to make clear what those extenuating circumstances were and tailor the circumstances to just cover Snowden.

Mataconis responds to the “hang Snowden” critics, most notably on the contention that Snowden should have gone to Congress. But he also raises a practical point:

There is, of course, one final point to keep in mind. Edward Snowden is currently beyond the reach of U.S. Law Enforcement and Intelligence Agencies for the foreseeable future. This means that we will remain unaware of what else it is that he might be in possession of that could be made public someday? Wouldn’t it make more sense to discuss making some kind of deal with him, in exchange for his full cooperation in exploring (1) what data he was able to obtain, (2) How he was able to obtain it even in cases where he apparently didn’t have the proper Security Clearances, and (3) How Intelligence Agencies could make their systems more secure in the future, rather than just leaving him hanging out there, apparently happy with his current living conditions, wondering when the next shoe is going to drop?

This carries a lot of weight with me. While Snowden is in foreign countries, the information he has, whatever it might be, in in danger of being revealed to our geopolitical enemies. Wouldn’t we much rather have him and his computers on American soil?

In the end, I find myself coming around to the idea that Snowden should be granted some sort of clemency … but only on things covered under the conditions Conor lists above: things related to massive surveillance, to law-breaking or to deception. He should not be granted any sort of clemency for any information he has given to Russia or China that compromises our national security. If Snowden has not revealed that kind of critical information to those countries, as he and his supporters claim, he should have no trouble accepting such a bargain.

Obama won’t do this, of course. He and his supporters have a lot invested in vilifying Snowden and defending the surveillance state. But maybe it’s something for Future President Rubio to consider.

18 comments

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  1. AlexInCT says:

    If Snowden knows what’s good for him he stays away from the US until a new administration that is not as vindictive and corrupt as this one (i.e. not democrats) is in charge of things, to avoid being fucked over after the fact.

    I remind him of Darth Vader’s famous words to Lando Calrissian: Prey I don’t alter the deal we made even more… Obama plays the role of the Emperor and Holder is Vader in Snowden’s version of that story.

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  2. richtaylor365 says:

    If Snowden knows what’s good for him he stays away from the US until a new administration that is not as vindictive and corrupt as this one

    There are probably just as many Republicans that want their pound of Snowden flesh as well.

    Hal, I wish either the NYT or you could answer some very basic questions about Snowden;

    1) Aside from skipping off to hide under the dress(es) of our our global enemies (those that want to hurt us) stocked with a laptop chock full of classified documents, what steps, legal steps sanctioned and protected by all those Whistle Blower laws, did he take to air his grievances legally?

    2) If he is as patriotic as he said he is and had no intentions of hurting his own country, why prance over to China or Russia, our two biggest global adversaries, and open up his briefcase? If he clearly had no where else to turn (which I think is absolute bullshit) why not go to Canada, or Great Britain, or any other number of countries where he would be safe to divulge whatever dirty little secret he wanted to tell, but it could have been done in a friendlier environment?

    3) How can anyone possibly speak about clemency or pardons when we really don;t know how much damage he has done, we don;t know what secrets have been revealed, and we don;t know the extent at which our global adversaries will use this information to hurt us? Is there a single person alive (outside the confines of the NYT’s) that honestly believes Russia is granting him asylum out of the goodness of their hearts and not expecting a quid pro quo, not getting some valuable juicy intel in return?

    I think Snowden is a traitor and a scumbag, I think if he really felt that Constitutional rights were being violated he could have handled this within the confines of our judicial system without involving our enemies, and I think he should be pursued with as much zeal and determination as those that attacked us in Benghazi and killed those men (oh, snap, that isn’t a very good example, is it?)

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  3. Seattle Outcast says:

    Canada or Great Britain would have handed his ass over to our spy agencies in a heartbeat, as would most countries once the demand was made. Seriously, after the curtain he pulled up on the NSA, he didn’t have many options left.

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  4. Hal_10000 says:

    Good questions, Rich:

    1) Several people had tried going through official whistleblower channels and were either silenced or prosecuted. Thomas Drake was prosecuted under the Espionage Act and this Administration has brought more Espionage Act charges than all previous administrations combined.

    2) As SO says, Canada or Great Britain would have handed him over in a heartbeat. He needed a country he knew would not extradite him. Remember that this Administration caused an incident when they grounded Evo Morales’ plane because they thought Snowden might be on it.

    3) That’s the reason I put forward the idea of a conditional pardon. We say to Snowden “if you are who you say you are we will give you clemency for revealing NSA abuses. But if you turned over operational details to the Russians or Chinese … enjoy prison.

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  5. richtaylor365 says:

    1) Did Snowden document his attempts at handling this thing properly i.e. using his chain of command, or did he skip all this for fear of retaliation and go straight to the chicoms? Even going to the press with information about domestic surveillance, doing this anonymously, given the mood of the nation, the distrust over government, there would probably be about a thousand times ten reporters who would take this on, with visions of Pulitzers dancing in their heads. Even going on the record, he had to know he would have been labeled a hero, made millions off of book deals and speaking engagements, all done without disclosing national security secrets to our enemies.

    2) I am not as convinced as you guys are. First off, he would not have been considered a spy (not like now where he is having to trade off national security secrets for room and board). And even if extradited, so what? It’s not like he gave away state secrets, only that our government is spying on us, it’s citizens, and again he is hailed as a hero, a bastion of civil liberties, the guy could write his own ticket.

    3) The problem we have here is that we do not have the ability to know what secrets he divulged to our enemies. They certainly are not going to tell us, and Snowden would say anything to save his own skin, no, the damage is done, he could have handled this in a dozen different ways, still getting his story told without the harm he has caused.

    Our Whistle Blower laws need to be strengthened, Snowden’s reporting of NSA’s domestic spying was taylor made for this sort of protection, but he decided to go another way, and compromised our very security;

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/01/03/snowden-lied-about-china-contacts.html

    That’s far short of the truth. By the time he wrote those words in the online chat, Snowden, according to one of my sources in Hong Kong, had at least one “high-level contact” with Chinese officials there. Those officials suggested he give an interview to the South China Morning Post, the most prominent English-language newspaper in Hong Kong. This is significant because, as the Post noted, Snowden turned over to the paper documents that contained detailed technical information on the NSA’s methods. Included in these documents were Hong Kong and Chinese IP addresses that the NSA was surveilling. The disclosure of those addresses was not whistle-blowing; that was aiding China.

    Snowden knew what he was doing and needs to pay for his crimes.

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  6. AlexInCT says:

    There are probably just as many Republicans that want their pound of Snowden flesh as well.

    Yeah, but they can be shamed into doing the right thing, Rich. Democrats don’t feel shame or remorse when it comes to fucking people over.

    2) If he is as patriotic as he said he is and had no intentions of hurting his own country, why prance over to China or Russia, our two biggest global adversaries

    For me this answer is simple man. He sees them as less likely to screw him over or kill him than the lawless gang now running the US, and I agree with him. As you pointed out, too many republicans were willing to go along with this administration and their wish to exact revenge on Snowden for telling us who they were abusing us, and that was what left him with no option. I bet he would have preferred to spend his days on a beach in Rio or somewhere tropical and nice, but he was sure he couldn’t escape the vindictive arm of this administration if he did that.

    1) Did Snowden document his attempts at handling this thing properly

    Have you been paying attention at how this administration has treated whistleblowers or people they consider as political enemies, Rich? Cause to me it looked immediately that what they wanted was to fuck Snowden over and shut him up so they could hide what they were doing. He was left with no other option but to run. And that claim he did national security damage sounds like more of the “It was that video that made the Libyans riot at Benghazi” shit this WH is so well know for. Snowden is a fucking hero, and that’s from a person that usually gives people making a national security claim wide latitude to defend the country. In this case there is very little national security and a massive conspiracy to hide a monumental abuse of our constitutional rights.

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  7. richtaylor365 says:

    Have you been paying attention at how this administration has treated whistleblowers or people they consider as political enemies, Rich?

    Already answered in the above comment. Given the mood of a distrusting suspicious populous over an ever growing ever liberty infringing ever nanny stating government who time and time again takes the position of them knowing better then we do what is good for us, yes, he could very easily waged this fight (a fight of his choosing btw) on American soil and he would have had every journalist in the country on his side, as well as every lawyer willing to defend him gratis. He chose this fight and he chose the arena, in the dens of America’s sworn enemies. And to tell you the truth I am surprised that folks here are defending this abject cowardice.

    He was left with no other option but to run.

    Yes, that is what the NYT and every other left leaning rag keeps telling us, I’m not convinced.

    . And that claim he did national security damage sounds like more of the “It was that video that made the Libyans riot at Benghazi” shit this WH is so well know for.

    Let me get this straight, for the record Alex, are you honestly telling me that you hold to the position that no national security secrets were revealed by Snowden? Did you read the link I provided in the above comment? You really believe that Russia, being that bastion of free speech and champion of political prisoners was willing to give this guy cover and a place to stay, and no quid pro quo was expected? What did you think he had to bargain with, info of the NSA’s domestic spying program, really?

    Snowden is a fucking hero,

    And you are making this proclamation while in total ignorance (as we all are) as to what state secrets he has turned over to regimes that wish to harm us, all I can say is WOW. I guess we will just have to disagree on this one.

    This is like saying that even though his methods were wrong, his heart was in the right place and his intentions were noble, baloney. There is a right way (for Snowden there were many right ways) and a wrong way to handle things, he did wrong.

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  8. Hal_10000 says:

    Rich, I am keeping an open mind on whether he turned over data to the Chinese. Chang claims he did; Snowden vehemently denies it. I hate to go all Alex on you :) but the Administration — hell, many Administrations, have a long history of using sock-puppets to slime and spread rumors about their political enemies (the Clintons were particularly adept at this). I am highly suspicious of these reports because are non definitive. They could be the result of Snowden betraying us, yes. They could also be the result of an Administration sliming him.

    That’s why a conditional clemency appeals. Call Snowden’s bluff. If he really hasn’t betrayed us, he should have no problem accepting it.

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  9. AlexInCT says:

    Already answered in the above comment. Given the mood of a distrusting suspicious populous over an ever growing ever liberty infringing ever nanny stating government who time and time again takes the position of them knowing better then we do what is good for us, yes, he could very easily waged this fight (a fight of his choosing btw) on American soil and he would have had every journalist in the country on his side, as well as every lawyer willing to defend him gratis.

    Oh, bullshit. I remind you that until Snowden did what he did nobody here took the abuses of our freedoms by this government too seriously. Especially in the media or the legal system, which both were happy to shill for these criminals as long as they could keep their access. And Snowden learned his lesson from the poor idiot they accused of causing the Benghazi riot with the video, and he was abso-fucking-lutely in the right to not trust the corrupt media or anyone else left in this country. In his place I would have done the same. This government is beyond evil in its corruption. I have no doubt Snowden would have had an “unfortunate accident” or been classified as a terrorist and disappeared while the media and your lawyers would all be making excuses for this government.

    I will say it again: the only difference between a banana republic and ours is that the people in charge of our country now have the means to disappear you into the system, or outright destroy you, without having to resort to killing you outright.

    Let me get this straight, for the record Alex, are you honestly telling me that you hold to the position that no national security secrets were revealed by Snowden?

    I certainly have not heard about any of them. Have you?

    You really believe that Russia, being that bastion of free speech and champion of political prisoners was willing to give this guy cover and a place to stay, and no quid pro quo was expected? What did you think he had to bargain with, info of the NSA’s domestic spying program, really?

    Their victory was to make Obama and the US look bad, something Obama does all by himself already, mind you, and I have no problem believing that was enough for Putin to give Snowden asylum. Spiting in the US’s eye gave them status. I doubt the FSB didn’t already know that the US was spending more time spying on its own citizens and its allies than it did on its enemies. But getting us in the west to put that front page, no longer pretending this administration would never do something so disgusting, and making sure everyone had to react to that revelation, was a huge victory for Putin.

    What else do you really think Snowden revealed? They have contingencies to deal with leaks that expose their capabilities that went into play as soon as Snowden ran, so I doubt the Russians, or anyone else, got anything other than what I already mentioned. But you can keep pretending that they got more if that allows you to think Snowden should have stayed here and hung himself out to dry..

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  10. richtaylor365 says:

    At first I thought it was “opposites” day, Alex taking the side of the NYT, that is Twilight Zone territory.

    Granted, we are mostly speculating because we don’t know what info was released by Snowden, that is the problem, we will never know because the regimes won’t tell us and Snowden himself can not be objective because it is his own skin at risk.

    When I am confronted with a partial picture and not all of the facts, I take the “Occam’s Razor” approach, and I ask myself ,”Why did he have to go to the doorsteps of regimes that want to hurt us, considering all the other destinations, those where he would be safe?” and ,”Why would these bellicose nations give him comfort and aid without expecting something in return?”.

    The burden of proof is on Snowden to show that he did not barter away national security secrets for comfort and aid, and I honestly don’t know how he is going to do this.

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  11. richtaylor365 says:

    and he was abso-fucking-lutely in the right to not trust the corrupt media or anyone else left in this country.

    If you honestly think that this “corrupt media” would not all jump at the chance to expose an unconstitutional domestic spying policy by the NSA and to protect a free speech advocate, well, I think you are wrong, Do you remember the James Rosen incident? The MSM protects Obama as long as he is promoting an agenda they believe in, but once he turns on one of their own, he loses that support and they rally around the oppressed, a similar pattern would unfold with Snowden.

    I remind you that until Snowden did what he did nobody here took the abuses of our freedoms by this government too seriously.

    OK, now I know it’s opposites day. Reread what you just wrote, nobody here took the governmental abuses seriously, are you kidding me? We have been writing about it extensively.

    I have no doubt Snowden would have had an “unfortunate accident” or been classified as a terrorist and disappeared while the media and your lawyers would all be making excuses for this government.

    I disagree, he would have been the modern day Daniel Ellsberg, times 10, he would have had a veritable army of lawyers rushing to his defense. He could have actually done some good and showed some courage in the process. And would have been handsomely rewarded for his efforts.

    I certainly have not heard about any of them. Have you?

    And I’ll ask, for a third time, did you read the link I provided earlier? If you want to discount it, fine, but at least read the damn thing first.

    What else do you really think Snowden revealed?

    That is the problem, I don’t know what he revealed, if anything, but to say that we have contingencies for any leaks so no harm was done is just stupid, like saying that revealing ULTRA to the Germans would not have weakened the allies because they could have gotten the same info someplace else. The link I provided suggested that Snowden turned over documents that revealed technical methods and capabilities that the NSA used for spying on the Chinese. Or are you agreeing with the premise that gentlemen do not spy on other gentlemen and that we should not be spying on our avowed enemies? Certain IP addresses were revealed, you don’t think that weakens our abilities in espionage?

    One thing I would like to know from the NSA (not so far forthcoming) is what intel Snowden had access to, and not just within his security clearance provided but what he actually could have stolen, as bargaining chips for the chicoms. A risk accessment should have been done by now.

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  12. richtaylor365 says:

    Another article demonstrating Snowdens lack of veracity, his subterfuge in bartering away secrets, and another reference to the revealed IP addresses.

    http://www.businessinsider.com/when-did-snowden-give-up-the-nsa-files-2013-10

    His own lawyer, the guy paid to protect his image, said this;

    On July 14, Greenwald told the Associated Press that Snowden “is in possession of literally thousands of documents … that would allow somebody who read them to know exactly how the NSA does what it does, which would in turn allow them to evade that surveillance or replicate it.”

    Once again, Greenwald suggested that Snowden hadn’t given up all of the NSA documents in his possession.

    And who he means by “them” is not just American citizens, but countries just like Russia and China, countries that we should be spying on, for our own survival.

    To dogmatically suggest that no damage was done reveals a total lack of inquisitiveness, and a direction a prudent man would avoid.

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  13. AlexInCT says:

    At first I thought it was “opposites” day, Alex taking the side of the NYT, that is Twilight Zone territory.

    I am not with the NYT, Rich. I am with Snowden. In fact, my advice to Snowden is not to trust the NYT, or anyone else in the LSM, because they are agents of this administration.

    Granted, we are mostly speculating because we don’t know what info was released by Snowden, that is the problem, we will never know because the regimes won’t tell us and Snowden himself can not be objective because it is his own skin at risk.

    You are correct, but there are two things to keep in mind when we discuss this. The first is that the NSA knew of the leak so they changed all the protocols and security systems as soon as they figured Snowden was in the wind with that info. And that’s a big if, considering Snowden might not have had anything that critical to begin with. They have contingencies for those very sorts of scenarios, and I doubt Snowden had access to that information. That shit isn’t done by contractors (at least it never used to be done by them before). There is very little chance for anything but some short term pain when it comes to operational capability for the NSA, and the real risk would exist if Snowden had been passing this information along and they didn’t know about it. By now the NSA has made the necessary changes to protect itself from incursion from any foreign agent. And I guarantee you that by the time Putin gave Snowden asylum, they had already closed all those doors. The only damage done is that they are no longer able to deny that they are spying on Americans and our allies.

    The second, and what these people are really fucking pissed about, is that there is no doubt Snowden exposed an organization that was doing something downright unconstitutional if not outright illegal, very likely under direction from this WH, and that’s the thing we need to focus on. The rest is all distractions. They do not want people to focus on that, which is why they pulled that whole national security trip out.

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  14. richtaylor365 says:

    The first is that the NSA knew of the leak so they changed all the protocols and security systems as soon as they figured Snowden was in the wind with that info.

    You are missing the point completely. We had a direct link (two IP addresses) to the Chinese, a pipeline for us to monitor what they were doing, isn’t that the very definition of espionage, to spy on your enemies? Well, those pipelines are now dried up, kapoot, gone. Tell me, What “protocol changes” on our part is going to open up those pipelines again or find new ones? It is analogous to the NSA having a direct link to phone conversations from an AQ source to splinter cells here in America, it would be nice to monitor these conversations to know what they are up to, so when it is leaked to the public that the NSA has picked up these conversations, from who and to who, they dry up, the bad guys change phones and now we are in the dark, what “protocol changes” are going to open those sources back up again?

    Granted, you are distrusting or the administration and the MSM, but do you trust the military? They are nonpolitcal and above the fray, is there anything they can say that would open your eyes? How about this?

    http://dailycaller.com/2013/12/17/dod-official-snowden-stole-everything-literally-everything/

    “What’s floating is so dangerous, we’d be behind for twenty years in terms of access (if it were to be leaked),” a ranking Department of Defense official told the Daily Caller.

    “He stole everything — literally everything,” the official said.
    —-
    “Everything you don’t want the enemy to know, he has,” the official said. “Who we’re listening to, what we’re after — they’d shut us down.”

    Did you get that last part? Whatever pipelines we had to our foreign enemies, to know what they were doing and when, that information and those pipelines are now potentially compromised. How does this not hurt us?

    The rest is all distractions

    So you think the potential (and I stress this because both us don’t know what actually was leaked) for our entire espionage capabilities around the world to be revealed and compromised, rendering them useless and ineffective, to be a “distraction”?

    Where you are only focused on the domestic aspect of Snowden and his revelations about the NSA’s domestic spying operations, I am concerned about the total package.

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  15. Xetrov says:

    If he leaked info to China or Russia that compromises our national security, then he should be executed for treason. But give him the Presidential Medal of Freedom before pulling the trigger.

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  16. mrblume says:

    [quote]t’s not like he gave away state secrets, only that our government is spying on us, it’s citizens, and again he is hailed as a hero, a bastion of civil liberties, the guy could write his own ticket.[/quote]

    Omg. Senators called for his head before the name Snowden was even disclosed. The American public was and still is in large numbers against him. The criminal justice bureaucracy is utterly intent on prosecution, and he would have ended up no different than Bradley Manning.

    The idea that someone who leaked NSA documents can go live in Canada is so absurd, I have to question either your sanity or sincerity.

    The idea that he should have gone through “official channels” is an equally absurd straw man. You basically have to live in an alternate universe to believe that some low-level NSA guy gets to affect change by reporting to his boss that he really has a problem with basically the whole self-conception of the agency.

    Despite what his most ardent defenders try to claim, there really isn’t a good case to be made that the NSA did actually do anything illegal. The list posted in the original post doesn’t contain any such thing. A ruling made by some judge that may easily have gone the other way, and still might, isn’t a good justification for disclosing all kinds of programs left and right.

    The reality is that this is entirely a political question, and a political leak. For Snowden and his defenders, which includes me, the problem with the NSA is not that this or that one action might be found by a court to have crossed a line, but that the richtaylor365 mentality of deference to the state whenever the words “military/national security/enemies” are invoked has led to a intelligence bureaucracy that is an uncontrollable monstrosity with a life of its own, intent on stealing more public funds every year, telling themselves they are essential while having absolutely nothing to show for it – and not having to prove any RoI, because they know the defenders of freedom will not be questioned.

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  17. Section8 says:

    If Snowden’s intent was to turn on us why go to the press at all? Why not just go right to Russia or China, say here you go and that’s that. We would have never even heard the NSA was fucking its citizens in the ass, Snowden would have screwed America, and would be living the good life in the enemy country. That’s how turncoats and defectors use to operate. There’s no reason for that to have changed. Snowden’s actions from a treasonous standpoint make no sense. It does make sense from a standpoint that he wanted to expose crimes against its own citizens, and wanted to have some leverage fearing reprisal. And watching the reaction of our government he had every right for that fear.

    Fact is he exposed a disgusting operation by a department that views each and every one of us with the same contempt that it views our foreign enemies. So even if some of the stuff he spilled harms our spying operation, so be it. They can revamp it and when they do they can restructure it with a mission to protect Americans, and not view its citizens as part of the enemy. Fuckers.

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  18. richtaylor365 says:

    Hey Alex, good discussion, we are very rarely on opposite ends of an issue so this was fun. But one last parting comment, you have mrblume on your side, try to avoid the desire to stab your eyes with scissors, that would be the natural reaction to having him as an ally.

    I have to question either your sanity or sincerity.

    Thanks for the vote of confidence, now I know I’m on the right track.

    The American public was and still is in large numbers against him.

    And why do you think that is? Come on, I know you can generate some brain power when you need to, think about it. OK, that’s long enough, I guess I was wrong about you. Do you think it might have something to do with his methods? You (and many others here, apparently) are missing the distinction between domestic spying and international spying, both which the NSA does. Domestic spying on it’s citizen-bad, we don’t want that, international spying on foreign powers-good, we want that. Now if Snowden only took documents that pertained to domestic spying and made only those public, he would have had the support of the American people (and me) because then he would have been a true patriot as he likes to portray himself. But no, as the links I have provided have supported, he took EVERYTHING and has used some (the extent of which is still unclear) of the international spying data to bargain for room and board, and in the process weaken the NSA’s ability to spy on our enemies.

    and he would have ended up no different than Bradley Manning.

    And I disagree, totally. Sure, now he probably will be treated like Manning because his crimes are similar. Manning turned over tens of thousands of documents, most of which he did not read nor knew the contents of. But as I said earlier, Snowden could have chosen a different path, just taking documents pertaining to domestic spying and nothing else, that would have secured his status in the esteem of the American people (in exposing illegality with the NSA, people love that sort of thing) and in securing his “patriot” status.

    Since you brought up Manning, tell me, do you think he also was a hero and deserves clemency as well?

    Despite what his most ardent defenders try to claim, there really isn’t a good case to be made that the NSA did actually do anything illegal.

    Exposing the practice was the first step. It’s hard to get a practice banned as unconstitutional if no one knows it is happening, right? Now we know, they can defend it within the judicial system and either get permission legally, or get spanked.

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