The New York Times and The Guardian Call For Snowden To Be Offered Clemency

Credit:Wikileaks Youtube channelCredit:Wikileaks Youtube channelLast night, The Guardian, which has been reporting on the information leaked by Edward Snowden, published an editorial calling for the NSA whistle-blower to be granted a pardon by the Obama administration:

Mr Snowden gave classified information to journalists, even though he knew the likely consequences. That was an act of some moral courage. Presidents – from Franklin Roosevelt to Ronald Reagan – have issued pardons. The debate that Mr Snowden has facilitated will no doubt be argued over in the US supreme court. If those justices agree with Mr Obama's own review panel and Judge Richard Leon in finding that Mr Snowden did, indeed, raise serious matters of public importance which were previously hidden (or, worse, dishonestly concealed), is it then conceivable that he could be treated as a traitor or common felon? We hope that calm heads within the present administration are working on a strategy to allow Mr Snowden to return to the US with dignity, and the president to use his executive powers to treat him humanely and in a manner that would be a shining example about the value of whistleblowers and of free speech itself.

The Guardian editorial highlights how aggressively the Obama administration (supposedly the most transparent in history) has been in prosecuting whistle-blowers:

Mr Obama has shown little patience for whistleblowers: his administration has used the Espionage Act against leakers of classified information far more than any of his predecessors.

On the same day the Guardian editorial was published The New York Times also published an editorial relating to Snowden, calling for him to be either granted a plea bargain “or some form of clemency" while highlighting the value of the information he leaked:

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.

The Times editorial also makes the important point oftentimes overlooked or ignored by those who support the American intelligence agencies’ behavior:

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.

It’s unlikely that the Obama administration will be offering Snowden a pardon or a plea bargain any time soon. Last month, National Security Adviser Susan Rice rejected calls for Snowden to be granted amnesty, saying that “We don’t think that Snowden deserves amnesty. We believe he should come back.”

More from Reason.com on Snowden here.


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  • John||

    In other news defending Obama is becoming increasingly burdensome and problematic for the Democratic media.

  • playa manhattan||

    Obama gives lots of pardons, right?

  • Auric Demonocles||

    You're thinking of waivers.

  • sarcasmic||

    Putin has pardoned more people than Obama. How said is that.

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    Pretty said.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    Not as said as it's about to be:

    Putin has pardoned more people than Obama.

  • sarcasmic||

    Right said. Like Fred.

  • The Rt. Hon. Serious Man, Visc||

    Bipartisanship is Democrats and Republicans agreeing that Snowden's head should be brought to the Commander-in-Chief on a platter.

    A lot of liberals are saying that Snowden isn't a patriot or a hero because he won't face the consequences for his actions. It's insanity.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    Is Feeney withholding the alt-text for fear of being charged with treason?

  • MIK||

  • Contrarian P||

    I'm continually amazed at the doublethink required to maintain a belief in the president's dedication to justice and fair play while simultaneously observing his behavior. It boggles the mind. The New York Times straddles the fence by appealing for a plea bargain or clemency for Snwden, rather than addressing the elephant in the room that what Snowden did, exposing blatantly illegal and unconstitutional (or, if you are a statist, completely without congressional approval or oversight) programs, should not be a crime at all. If they were intellectually honest, they'd be discussing clemency or plea deals for James Clapper and the rest of the intelligence community that have perjured themselves or concealed these programs.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I find it difficult to focus on Snowden as the problem given how much illegality his disclosures have uncovered. It's not just little bullshit technical violations were learning about, either.

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    He may have committed a crime to do so, but he has done his country a great service.

    Criminals like:

    Franklin
    Washington
    Adams x2
    Jefferson
    Madison
    Hamilton...

    Fuck what this government has become!

  • The Rt. Hon. Serious Man, Visc||

    Some idiot on Slate wrote this:

    So much for the patriot - as I recall, when we revolted against the English government, the patriots were willing to stand up and take the consequences for their actions. Apparently, Mr. Snowden has no such courage.

    By his logic Franklin, Washington, Jefferson, and Adams should have surrendered to the British and been hanged, drawn, and quartered because those were the consequences of their actions.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Is he suggesting that Snowden should rise up and lead a rebellion against the U.S. government? That's surprising, coming from a leftist.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Rebellion against Obama is racism.

    Real patriots submit to mulatto tyrants.

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    I don't know how some of you guys can read the articles/comments in Slate, Jezebel, HuffPo...

    Spikes my BP and I fly into a blind rage. I'm getting so I can't even stand the comments at CNN.

  • John Thacker||

    Especially the way Washington attacked the British on Christmas. Had he no shame?

  • John Thacker||

    Of course, he really was only attacking Hessians, so who cares, right?

  • CE||

    If he had wiped out all the Germans then, WWII might have been avoided.

  • ||

    If Snowden came out under Bush he'd be a national hero to the left.

  • ||

    Snowden is a hero to the left. He's only a traitor to participants in the power structure in this country, such as politicians, bureaucrats and journalists.

  • John||

    Which when when combined with their various cronies and boot lickers is THE LEFT in this country.

  • ||

    I know plenty of real lefties. Socialist do-gooders to the core. They all love Snowden.

  • John||

    But they would never do something like not vote Democrat is Obama were to drone strike him. So really, they love talking about how much they love Snowden. Their affection for him, whatever it is, will never translate into any action.

  • ||

    Wrong. The real leftists I know all voted Green. Some of them both times, some the second time after experiencing the Epic Fail of the first 4 years.

  • John||

    the Green party got like 1%. It got less than Gary Johnson. So these "real leftists" are very few and far between.

    The bottom line is no one on the left ever launched a primary challenge against Obama or stood up to him when it counted.

    No offense but fuck your friends. It is a bit late to be all principled now.

  • Les||

    John, this is sad behavior from you. You don't know these people. You don't know his friends.

    He's telling you they never supported Obama. You're saying, "that's not good enough!"

    Don't be a douche.

  • ||

    If they had opposed Obama, and Romney won, it would have been their fault for not getting in line. What, were they supposed to shoot themselves in the foot just to feel good about themselves, and have no chance of having a voice in the process?

    /John

  • CE||

    So most of the votes the Green Party got were from your personal friends? Wow.

  • sarcasmic||

    I've listened to people on PBS talk about Snowden in a sympathetic manner.

  • John Thacker||

    "The left" mostly voted for Obama, didn't they? Including after this stuff came out.

  • ||

    The people I know who voted for Obama (which was most of the people I know), are unprincipled and susceptible to emotion manipulation. In other words, they don't have a set ideology other than "for the children" or "equality" or "safety". They turn toward any shiny object. Hence, they cannot be identified as left or right. "Left" implies an actual ideology. Same with "Right" or "Libertarian" or "Green" or "Socialist". Obama supporters are just political voids.

    I know several people who support Obama no mater what. I wouldn't say they're on the left, because they have no identifiable political characteristics. Maybe you could call them "idologues" instead of "idealogues".

    I'm copyrighting that word....

  • sarcasmic||

    Sadly, you cannot use reason and logic to persuade someone who arrives at their conclusions by emoting.

  • ||

    Well, yes, that's kind of the point. You also can't call someone "left" or "right" or whatever if they're not guided by a consistent ideology.

  • sarcasmic||

    I see what you're saying. There's a difference between coming up with a conclusion and then choosing a side, or choosing a side simply because of how they make you feel.

  • ||

    These people might identify themselves as lefties, but that doesn't make them lefties. And many of them self-identify as left because it's the cool hip thing, even though when you try to apply consistency to their perceived "principles", they end up breaking their brains.

  • John Thacker||

    Interesting points, but I demur.

    1) The terms "the Left" and "the Right" as well as "the Center" and other political terms, inevitably refer to mass movements.

    2) Mass movements will always be primarily composed of people who do not have a consistent ideology. Politics itself is inevitably composed of such things as mood affiliation and coalition forming. Neither of these things favors consistency.

    3) Consistency makes it impossible to form a governing coalition. Part of this is that any consistent ideology or philosophy inevitably leads to conclusions that are repugnant to the vast majority of the populace.

    4) Therefore, the effort to read people out via No True Scotsman is futile. Far better to say that while civil liberties advocates form a constituency and part of the general Left coalition, for many people in the Left coalition they are relatively unimportant, perhaps used against political rivals but conveniently overlooked when in power. In fact, some may on balance not agree with the civil liberties concerns but don't consider them important enough to object to using them to attack the Other Side. Whatever keeps the other members of the coalition motivated. (The same naturally applies to the Right coalition.)

  • John Thacker||

    Therefore, while I certainly grant that there is a wing of people concerned with civil liberties part of the Left coalition, I am unconvinced that the size of that faction is particularly larger than the similar faction generally part of the Right coalition (who tend to be described as libertarians, even if, granted, they are not libertarian enough for other libertarians.)

  • Outlaw||

    You're getting into No True Scotsman territory, IMO.

    The Obamabots hate Snowden and they are lefties.

  • kinnath||

    Snowden only got a one year visa to enter Russia. The clock is ticking, and he is facing a real problem.

  • Jerry on the boat||

    ...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.

    Right.

  • Marianna||

    Clearly my new Snowden t-shirt, worn over the holidays, made more of an impact than I anticipated.

    I was just happy with all the free drinks it got me.

  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    Was it like the one I'm getting printed out this weekend?

    Split screen, left side Snowden, above that "Hero". Right side Obama, above that "Traitor". Below: "Any questions?"

  • Lord Humungus||

    You know who else wanted to offer clemency?

  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    Every person in every country in the world who is not a politician?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    HE MADE OBAMA LOOK BAD. The whistle blowing all makes Obama look bad.

  • sarcasmic||

    Sometimes I wonder how much classified information is simply stuff that might embarrass someone.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Oh, maybe half? Another 30% is stuff that's not that critical but no one wants to wade through it all.

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    The sad part is, that there are legitimate reasons for classified information. Battle plans, weapons capabilities...

    Classified for political advantage or to cover up nefarious actions is obviously NEVER legit.

    Of all the classified I've seen, I've NEVER once seen it being used for nefarious/political purposes (in the military). I do think much of it is OVER classified as the military has become more and more risk averse. When in doubt, classify, seems to be the model.

  • TheZeitgeist||

    If Snowden's cache ended up with the likes of the Russian FSB, I could rationalize defining him as a criminal. Otherwise, nope.

    And if we're so anxious to prosecute criminals, what about that Clapper guy straight up lying under oath in Congress? Boxer and the gang are cool with that.

  • sarcasmic||

    One of my coworkers is an arch-conservative Marine who visibly bristles when the subject of Snowden comes up. He'd kill the guy himself if given a chance. Mainly because he'd decided that Snowden gave up all the information to the Chinese to be let into Hong Kong, again to Putin to be let into Russia, and is thus a treasonous traitor who deserves to die.
    I did make him pause when I asked "If you've taken an oath to uphold the Constitution, and discover that your government is blatantly ignoring it, what do you do?"

  • TheZeitgeist||

    The Chinese I'm pretty sure were out of the loop. Hong Kong is not nearly plugged into the CCCP police state as the rest of the PRC, and the lid blew off this thing after he got there.

    Besides, the Chinese probably read all his good stuff the week before after downloading it themselves. I think that's the way the food chain works: NSA steals everything from Americans, then the Chinese run something like a cron job and pull it down at night.

  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    Then what did he say?

  • sarcasmic||

    "That's a matter of conscience. And if that's all he was going to do then he should have done it at a press conference. But instead he gave the information to our enemies, and for that he must die."

  • R C Dean||

    Ask your buddy how he would handle it if he had a huge cache of information showing rampant criminality in the government.

    Given the DemOp media's proven willingness to cover up a story, would releasing to the US press even break the story?

    How long does he think he'd be walking around a free man after he gave his press conference?

    How's he going to release more information when he's being held in a SuperMax isolation cell as a terrorist?

  • sarcasmic||

    He'd say that's a risk that one must be willing to take if they're going to release the information without sharing it with our enemies.

  • R C Dean||

    How does this guy think you can release any information to the public without also releasing it to our "enemies"?

  • SForza||

    One of my coworkers

    You mean, cow orkers?

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    I did make him pause when I asked "If you've taken an oath to uphold the Constitution, and discover that your government is blatantly ignoring it, what do you do?"

    That, was exactly the correct question to ask him. He will now at least think about it.

  • sarcasmic||

    He's also a big time drug warrior. Or at least was. Last time the subject came up it had to do with my father's crappy memory, and the fact that for many decades he's been smoking something that people say leads to memory loss.
    Coworker said "And people want to legalize the stuff!"
    I said "I'd rather have a dad living in his home with a crappy memory than a dad in prison with a sharp memory."
    That ended the conversation.

  • SForza||

    The New York Times also published an editorial relating to Snowden, calling for him to be either granted a plea bargain “or some form of clemency"

    He deserves a full pardon and a Presidential Medal of Freedom. Maybe under President Paul.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    C'mon, Snowden, don't you want to be our 21st century Nathan Hale?

  • The Late P Brooks||

    HE MADE OBAMA LOOK BAD.

    The prosecution rests.

  • Nixonfan||

    Look: I'm a libertarian too. I still believe that we must torture Snowden to death, KGB-style. He gave our crown jewels to our enemies. I would also torture to death the head of NSA security, slowly. Incompetence is treason at that level.

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