Rand Paul Calls For Snowden To Receive Light Prison Term


Credit: Gage Skidmore/wikimedia

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has called for NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden to receive a light prison sentence.

When asked by ABC News' George Stephanopoulos about the New York Times' editorial calling for Snowden to be granted "a plea bargain or some form of clemency" on This Week Paul said:

I don't think Edward Snowden deserves the death penalty or life in prison. I think that's inappropriate. And I think that's why he fled, because that's what he faced.

Paul also said that he doesn't think it's ok to leak national secrets that could put lives at risk.

Paul went on to say that Snowden "probably would come home for some penalty of a few years in prison," adding that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper "probably deserves" a similar sentence for lying to Congress.

The lie Paul referred to took place during a Senate hearing in March, 2013. At that hearing, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) asked Clapper, "Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?" Clapper replied "No sir." When Wyden responded "It does not?" Clapper said that the NSA does "not wittingly" collect the amount of data Wyden referred to. Clapper has since apologized for his response, calling it "clearly erroneous."

Watch the exchange below:

Paul has filed a class-action lawsuit against the NSA "to say to the government and to the NSA, No, you can't have our records without our permission or without a warrant specific to an individual." Ken Cuccinelli, the former Virginia attorney general and gubernatorial candidate, will be a legal adviser for the suit.

Unsurprisingly, Paul's comments on the NSA have been criticized by Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), who says that Paul "doesn't deserve to be in the United States Senate" and that he "does not know what he's talking about."

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  1. Paul went on to say that Snowden “probably would come home for some penalty of a few years in prison,”


    Yeah, I doubt it.

    1. The U.S. isn’t so awesome that I, or anyone I know, would voluntarily choose to spend a couple years in prison, maybe more, to live here.

    2. Yeah, even if that was the end of it. Can you imagine Snowden trying to fly anywhere after his prison sentence? This guy would get harassed in about a million ways if he ever chose to come to the U.S. again.

      1. I think if he came back – he may well get enough support to never worry about public air transportation ever again.

        Though as others have noted – I seriously doubt a few years would do it, so I doubt he’s returning anytime soon.

        But it’s possible he does return for a very light sentence – given he may have reason to believe they’ll hold to their words based upon the evidence he hasn’t yet released (assuming there is some not yet released).

        He can ensure it’s use even from prison in a number of ways of course, in case the government were to renege.

        & he may well want to come home – not because it’s the US necessarily, but his family and friends and such.

        Even with that – I doubt he will and I wouldn’t if I were him – I would have zero trust in any deal – why would I when the current president refuses to follow laws he pushed to get passed?

        Or a country where an 18 year old sleeping with his long term, but 16 year old GF lands him on the sex offenders registry?

        At one time – not in the far distant past – we had a semi-rule of law, where given Snowden some ability to ensure cooperation (data still not released) maybe he could come back for a short sentence – but today?

        Not just would I not want to come in by I would actively try to stay in a country like Russia or China, a big enough country where the US would be scared to murderdrone me.

  2. LRC amusingly called Peter King (R-Tel Aviv)

    1. I thought it was (R-IRA)

      1. R-NSA
        that just about summarizes the mainstream insucure parts of republican party

    2. “Terrorist fundraiser Peter King (R-NY)”

      1. You can leave out “fundraiser”.

        1. I can’t say that. Then the terrorists will have won. At least an election.

    3. Mission: find a way to link King to Israel

      Statust: fuck it

      LRC is a joke.

  3. Paul also said that he doesn’t think it’s ok to leak national secrets that could put lives at risk.

    It’s lucky for Snowden then that he didn’t do that.

    1. Agreed

    2. Paul also said that he doesn’t think it’s ok to leak national secrets that could put lives at risk.

      Curious – Did Paul say why he thought that?

      I mean it’s possible to risk lives by giving up certain operational capabilities even, without names attached, but I didn’t see any capabilities he gave away any capabilities that would fall into an area of “risk lives”.

      Unless the argument is “now that more people know, more people are using encryption” but I doubt the major organizations we fear lack having and using PGP and other encryption algorithms.

      Quite possibly they have built encryption algorithms we don’t yet even know about which hides “secret info” in seemingly normal, unencrypted traffic.

      Though with Echelon going public in the mid-90’s, even this is a BS argument…

      Either way – anyone know if Paul said why this information (or yet to be released information) is actually risking lives by being public?

      1. I would imagine that he’s pandering to the base of conservative voters who freak out about national security. He is running for President, after all.

        1. I like to think that too, but then I remember that he’s the one-eyed man in the land of the blind.

          Given that his dad is personally conservative (in the Sound-of-Music and R-rated-movies-will-send-you-to-hell sense), I’m not so sure Rand doesn’t believe a lot of the socon stuff he’s pushing.

  4. Now Rand is pandering to the statists as well as the SoCons?

    You ain’t gonna be Prez, Rand, just give it up and stop the pandering already. Murika is not ready for a Prez who is not both a total sociopath and chronic liar.

    And I only have one thing to say to Mr. Snowden. DO NOT come back here, EVER. But I think you already know better.

    1. Now Rand is pandering to the statists as well as the SoCons?

      No. Rand Paul is avoiding the mistakes of his father. Snowden did technically break the law. If Paul said that Snowden should get no punishment, it would allow his enemies to portray him as a radical and say he is a hypocrite for wanting Clapper punished. By saying Snowden deserves some punishment but not the measures people like King want, he makes King and company look like the fanatics for wanting Snowden stuck in Super max and like hypocrites for saying Clapper’s lying to Congress was just fine.

      It is brilliant politics.

      1. I’ll be interested to see if it works out in his favor. I’m sure he’s not too worried about losing some libertarian voters seeing as how slim a margin we are.

    2. I found nothing disagreeable in Rand’s quote. He was commenting within the conditional statement of what Snowden would agree to under a plea bargain.

      1. I find it disagreeable, because if not for what Snowden did, we might not even be having a real national discussion about what the NSA is doing, and Rand might not be filing his lawsuit. Snowden is a hero.

        I like Rand, don’t get me wrong, and I would still vote for him. But he is still pandering because he wants to be POTUS. Even if like John said, he’s avoiding the mistakes of his father, it’s by avoiding being too honest, in order to placate certain groups, AKA pandering. Ron didn’t do it, therefore he couldn’t be POTUS. Rand is doing it, and still won’t ever be POTUS. Which is better?

        1. Ron didn’t do it, therefore he couldn’t be POTUS. Rand is doing it, and still won’t ever be POTUS. Which is better?

          I think having a national political leader who doesn’t manage to offend and piss off large numbers of people who would otherwise be predisposed to support you is a hell of a lot better.

          What do you want to do win or score jackass points?

          1. I think there’s a fine line, and Rand is sort of crossing over it in a careless way at times.

            He’s not going to be POTUS. Why? Because he would have to jump right out of pandering and into sociopathic lying, by telling enough people that he’s going to give them free shit and that no one will have to pay for it, except for the evil rich of course.

            So if he’s going to err to one side of the line, he should do it more towards the honest side and not the pandering side.

            That’s all I’m saying is that he goes a bit overboard at times.

            1. I think he is going to be President or at least has a very good shot at being it. But even if he doesn’t, comeing out and getting into a pissing match about how wonderful Snowden is or is not is a complete waste of time. He just made all of the idiots who want Snowden shot look like the fanatical morons they are. Why you think it is a good idea for him to have instead let them paint him as a fanatic by saying Snowden is without sin is beyond me. To me that is just scoring jackass points and not trying to accomplish anything.

              1. John, you thought Romney was going to be POTUS also. How’d that work out?

                Anyway, Rands mistake is that he rambles on about shit and says more than he needs to, while he’s pandering. When he does that, he gives too much credit to people who are anti-liberty.

                I know what he’s trying to, and I agree with you about he’s trying to do. But he gets careless when he should learn when to quit talking.

                1. I think he can win. But if he does win, most Libertarians will hate him because he won’t be a complete fanatic and will actually accomplish a few things.

                  Yeah, I would prefer to be optimistic about Paul’s chances. I suspect you are more optimistic about them than you admit and thus working to find excuses to hate him.

                2. If Perot had a shot – Paul definitely has a shot.

                  & I think his changes have gotten better over time – prior to his filibusterer, most paid zero attention to him – even during his filibuster the GOP ignored him.

                  They listen now because of the donations inspired by his filibuster.

                  & he keeps making good decisions which should increase his popularity and donations, making him a real force.

                  While I like others here think Snowden is a hero – I think Paul knocked this out of the park as he’s the only politician yet to make the case Snowden shouldn’t be tortured/GITMOd/etc.

                  It will be interesting to see if the debate stays as is (IE – two public sides, 1 – hang him, 2 – go light ) or if it shifts to where more people suggest going light as well effectively quieting the hang-em crowd.

                  We’ll see….

                  1. In a Bush-Gore election cycle, Rand would have a fighting chance. The presence of Ted Cruz in Republican primaries, though, is too high a mountain.

                    Cruz is the purest debate talent the GOP has had since Nixon; Cruz is an ethnic minority, will win the he-can-win! votes on that basis, and kinda speaks the same language as the US’s largest minority; Cruz has the escape-from-Castro narrative. Rand’s going to be too bruised from populist slurs over CRA68, Aqua Buddha, and his dad to preach as much as he’d need to. As much as I like Paul, he’s not the primary candidate that Cruz is.

                    As much as he humiliated Hillary, Rand isn’t going to match Cruz in his ability to manipulate the Republican rabble in debates (these are the people who cheered the Texas death penalty), as the GOP’s base remains socon and evangelical. And with his Tea Party roots, he knows that if he promises to commute the sentences of all nonviolent pot smokers currently doing time, he’ll win much of the 1% that went to Johnson in 2012. Sometimes libertarians forget how radical we are compared to the average voter; even enemies of Rothbard like Nick Gillespie and WA Root are way out there on the political bell curve.

                    Between all those factors, ACA hangover, Obama fatigue, and Hillary’s transparent sociopathy, I’d bet on hailing President Cruz in 2017.

            2. he would have to jump right out of pandering and into sociopathic lying, by telling enough people that he’s going to give them free shit

              Hyperion jacks off to his own sense of cynicism.

        2. Snowden is a hero.

          Sure, but so was MLK, and his civil disobedience earned him jail time. That jail time he willingly and without rancor accepted helped advance his cause. Blanket clemency would trivialize the importance of Snowden’s work.

          1. That’s a very good point.

          2. Blanket clemency would trivialize the importance of Snowden’s work.

            I suspect that both MLK and Snowden would have been happy to have been “trivialized” and not spend time in prison.

            1. Not in MLKs case. It fed into his strategy. He was explicit about this.

      2. Frankly, I’d hold any US regime in contempt that would not unreservedly pardon Snowden.

        Hell, I’d campaign to have the US Mint strike a commemorative gold coin in his honor, award him the Medal of Freedom, and ask him to campaign with me if I were Rand Paul.

  5. Paul’s political acumen continues to impress me. By admitting that Snowden did do something wrong and does deserve some punishment, he puts his opponents in the position of arguing “Rand Paul hates America because he doesn’t want Snowden shot”. Giving some ground cuts the legs out from under his opponents and makes Paul look reasonable by comparison. It also allows him to point out that Clapper committed a crime as well and deserves punishment just like Snowden.

    1. It’s impressive in the way that a con artist or an expert pickpocket is impressive.

      1. Because being reasonable and admitting that your opponents might have a point is so like stealing. It is true that Snowden did break the law and released a lot of shit that had nothing to do with the NSA spying on Americans. For that most people would say he does deserve to be punished. You don’t agree with that but it is not an unreasonable position.

        This is why Libertarians manage to be such political losers. They can’t fathom that anyone could have a reasonable point and seem to actually enjoy pissing people off and making enemies rather than convincing anyone or trying to change anything.

        1. Not coincidentally, Libertarians always lose at three-card Monte, too.

          1. If you honestly think that having a debate and seeing things from other people’s perspective is “three card Monte”, you a fucking retard Marc. Sorry but you are.

            Who told you they gave cake out here?

            1. I’m saying the game is rigged.

            2. There’s cake? Why is this the first I’ve heard of it?

              1. The cake is a lie

              2. Yeah. It’s the only reason I’m here.

            3. There is a difference between seeing things from other people’s perspective and agreeing with them.

              1. Sure, but politics is the art of compromise.

                If one shows a consistent inability to compromise, due to “morals” or any other reason, one starts finding no one wants to negotiate with them ever, effectively leaving them out of any dealings.

                Meaning there is absolutely zero reason to enter into discussions or negotiations with a party who has been known to not compromise on a consistent basis for whatever reason.

                So in that case – even if Paul were to win presidency, if 90% of legislators and such hated him – he would have no long term impact because they wouldn’t allow it.

                & while gridlock is great normally – I’d think with Paul we’d hopefully see a rollback on some things and we’d want some government working towards that end.

                Think Jessie the Body – whether you agree with him or not, his uncompromising moral stance allowed him to do almost nothing that matters long term in MN.

      2. “It’s impressive in the way that a con artist or an expert pickpocket is impressive.”

        Your just repeating what he said – Rand Paul is impressive in his politics.

        Doubt anyone here believes their is a midget’s dick worth of difference between the two.

        Actually, their is one, the pickpocket would probably feel bad if he accidentally murdered you during the robbery.

  6. I liked the part about Clapper. Unfortunately, it did not (so far as i know) cause Peter King to die of a brain embolism.

  7. Citizens for Liberty, or some comparable group, needs to put together a 100% fact-checked white paper on Rep. King and his “aid to IRA terrorists” and make sure he is confronted at every public appearance he makes. His constituents may keep re-electing him but let’s curb his ambitions to be a play-maker in the 2016 presidential primaries.

  8. Rand is being pretty smart here. It’s primary politics. If it didn’t make our stomach turn, he’s not doing it right.

    1. See my quote above. And really, Snowden is a bit of a shit bag. You are not going to win the argument that he is a good guy nor do you want to engage in it. Better to say “sure not everything he did was koshur and sure he deserves some punishment for that”. To the average voter that sounds really reasonable and makes King and company look like fanatics.

      1. He is a bit of a shit bag? For revealing that the NSA was unconstitutionally spying on everybody? If for the other stuff, then he is still “a bit of” a hero too then.

        1. Agree with emerson. You had me on the Rand Paul necessity of politics/spin, but when you try to make the case that Snowden is a “shitbag” or is guilty of wrongdoing and you aren’t in front of a podium, I question your judgment.

          Unless you can show me a dead hooker, abused child or kicked-dog, the man deserves a parade.

  9. You know who else doesn’t deserve to be in the United States Senate and doesn’t know what they’re talking about?

    1. 99 other Senators?

    2. Al Franken?

  10. really, Snowden is a bit of a shit bag.

    Sez you.

    1. I say he’s a hero.

    2. He says a lot of stuff. Don’t take it so seriously.

    3. Ses a lot of people. What do you want to do Brooks, stop the NSA from spying on Americans or defend Snowden?

      I really don’t give a shit about Snowden one way or the other. Libertarians of course being born losers will no doubt be angry at Paul for not dying the pointless hill of how wonderful Snowden is.

      Snowden is not a hero and a bit of a nut and released a lot of shit in addition to the stuff everyone is mad about that didn’t need to be released. He certainly isn’t what morons like King think he is. But anyone who holds him up as some kind of great guy is on a fool’s errand.

      1. What do you want to do Brooks, stop the NSA from spying on Americans or defend Snowden?

        I’ll take both for 600, Alex.

        1. I will take a pony too. You are not getting both. You are not going to get the country to embrace Snowden and you wouldn’t want to anyway. Do you really want to base your argument on Snowden?

          1. I’m sticking with both. There’s no reason why I can’t support both what Snowden did and stopping the NSA from violating our civil rights.

            If not for Snowden, like I said, we may not be having this conversation.

            1. So what? Snowden released other stuff that had nothing to do with this conversation. Since when does “well I did something right” give you a free pass? Clapper’s defenders will tell you he did all this great stuff so it doesn’t matter that he lied to Congress. If you think Snowden should get a pass, who are you to say they are wrong?

              1. John also I think you conflate here “defending Snowden” with “defending Snowden’s actions” as I think the latter is possible without losing in the long run.

                Defending any individual however, until they’ve been long dead so all secrets are out, is dangerously stupid.

                Note – I agree with your finer point that Paul did the right thing, but I think you’re going a little far here, as I think one could do both, so long as the defense is in what Snowden released and not Snowden himself.

                But the compromise Paul came up with is brilliant and much better than trying to do both.

  11. The truth is Snowden has done more to advance liberty than Rand Paul ever will.

    1. Snowden hasn’t done shit to advance liberty. Releasing that information didn’t advance liberty. The only thing will advance liberty is people standing up and doing something about it.

      1. Hey, you know what will encourage people to stand up and do something about it? Calling them shitbags. Maybe putting them in jail for a little while.

      2. Yes, and now – thanks to Snowden’s revelations – people have the legal standing to do something about it. Whereas before the government’s position was that the spying cannot be proven therefore it can not be challenged. His actions have single-handily changed that and are forcing the issue to a head.

      3. Releasing that information didn’t advance liberty. The only thing will advance liberty is people standing up and doing something about it.

        The 2nd sentence is true but it required the 1st sentence. So everything done as part of the 2nd sentence gets Snowden some fraction of the credit, which will mean he ends up with a bigger fraction than anyone else…assuming anything happens.

        Without his release of information, the NSA would still be denying everything.

        1. So Snowden is the only guy who could have released it? Snowden did the world a favor for sure. But it would have eventually come out.

          I am not saying he was wrong to release it. I am just saying the response is what advances liberty, not the release.

          1. So Snowden is the only guy who could have released it?

            How many people knew about it? How many released it?

            But it would have eventually come out.

            Probably, but only after it was too late. Or, if it came out reasonably soon, that person would have been the hero instead.

            I am just saying the response is what advances liberty, not the release.

            And Im saying I agree, but there cant be a response without the release. The release was necessary but not sufficient to advance liberty. But lets give Snowden the credit for doing his part.

            Washington and Jefferson had different roles in the Revolution. Both were necessary. Neither alone was sufficient.

            1. Oh, I bet Rand knew about it. At least some of it.

              Of course, he didn’t say anything because he didn’t want to be accused of treason or go to jail. Which is why he’s the real hero here.

              1. Was Rand on intel committees?

                If so, it’s possible he knew – assuming all the information Snowden is releasing was released to Congress and Rand was on intel committees then it’s most likely he knew.

                If not – I’m not so sure – if lots of congress critters knew, you’d think with turn-over one of them would’ve released something… but I don’t know.

                Any one have any information showing how widespread the knowledge of this program was within the government?

          2. Man those goal posts moved really fast.

      4. Snowden hasn’t done shit to advance liberty. Releasing that information didn’t advance liberty. The only thing will advance liberty is people standing up and doing something about it.

        John, you generally make intelligent comments, even when they are wrong. This one is absurd.

      5. Okay now John is just bullshitting as he is tends to when he is called out for nonsense.

        Libertarians of course being born losers

        No it’s conservatives that are losers. The Conservative movement has accomplished dick all in 50 years and your moral sclerosis regarding Snowden is a great example of why.

    2. That.

      But no, I’m supposed praise Rand Paul for his “political acumen” when we have a real hero in the man he’d throw in jail (oh, but just for a little while).

      Bah. Fie. Humbug.

      If you could change anything by voting for Rand Paul, it would be illegal.

      1. Yeah Marc, just ignore all of the rest of the shit Snowden released. You are no different than the clowns who think Clapper should get a pass for lying to Congress. The law doesn’t matter if we like you. Sorry, I take a pass on that.

        1. What “shit” are you referring to that is so egregious? I haven’t really delved too far into the particulars aside from what’s been covered in the typical Reason and MSM stories, which mostly, if not exclusively, talk about the NSA revelations.

          “The law doesn’t matter if we like you”

          I don’t think Clapper is a shitweasel or deserves to go to prison because he broke a law. I think he’s a shitweasel who deserves to go to prison for participating in and trying to cover up the violation of liberty of hundreds of millions of people.

          I do agree with you that Rand’s move here is politically savvy. That doesn’t mean I have to kiss his ass and bow down to him for his brilliance, while supporting sending Snowden to prison.

  12. I get it. Snowden took an oath to defend the President from all enemies, domestic and foreign.

  13. Guaranteed some fucking dipshit on MSNBC or something waves him aside as an evil republican racist anarchist or something so his sympathy or appeals to clemency are to be dismissed as ingenuine and nothing and Right Thinking democrat should assume to be motivated by anything other than some malicious Tea Party plot to destroy the planet.

  14. Come on Rand you can’t really believe he deserves prison time. Besides, the fact the American people didn’t revolt upon learning of the immense list of serious crimes their government is committing against them (like they would’ve if Republicans had been holding the reins during the revelations) just proves the end of America is a small breath away at the most. So what’s the point of punishing someone like Snowden while turning a blind eye to, and even handsomely reward, the crimes of thousands of little Pol Pots and Hitlerettes holding political office?

  15. I think he is a hero, but if he were in front of me I’d try to talk him into two years in prison provided Clapper gets two also.

  16. Rand just can’t not be a politician…Snowden doesn’t deserve any prison time at all

  17. Rand Paul’s great defense of Edward Snowden is that he deserves a “light prison term”? This is supposed to be the great libertarian standard bearer which we Ron Paul supporters are all supposed to rejoin the Republican Party despite the crimes committed against state delegations committed to Ron Paul in the last two presidential cycles?

    How about advocating Nobel Peace Prize for Edward Snowden, Senator Paul? To think I was actually considering voting for you in 2016.

    You just lost my vote.

  18. I knew there was something about Rand I didn’t like. Edward Snowden deserves a hero’s welcome and a parade, for Christ’s sakes!

  19. He better be playin some games. How did he come from the loins of Ron talking like that

  20. Paul throws the statists a false bone. Paul stated that “he doesn’t think it’s ok to leak national secrets that could put lives at risk.” A crime for which Snowden isn’t guilty that I know of.

    And he followed it up with equating what Clapper did to what Snowden did. Even though Clapper actually violated the law at least twice. First by engaging in the unlawful activity of spying on citizens contrary to the Constitution, and second for lying to Congress under oath. Clapper has also violated his oath to the Constitution, as has Obama and every other person involved or with knowledge of the crimes.

    So the good this does, is shutup the statists calling for Snowden’s head, because then they’ll be asked about Clapper’s head as well. Second, it shows Paul does support laws making it a crime to reveal classified information which endangers lives. He didn’t say it was illegal to expose crimes by government officials when it’s necessary to make classified documents available publically.

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