Last 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.
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.