Edward Snowden

Snowden Is Talking About Coming Back to U.S., Says Russian Lawyer

President Obama: You can still do the right thing.

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Snowden Obama
Spiegel

Reuters is reporting that the lawyers for domestic surveillance whistleblower Edward Snowden are in talks about arranging for him to come home from his exile in Russia:

A Russian lawyer for Edward Snowden said on Tuesday the fugitive former U.S. spy agency contractor who leaked details of the government's mass surveillance programs was working with American and German lawyers to return home.

Anatoly Kucherena, who has links to the Kremlin, was speaking at a news conference to present a book he has written about his client. Moscow granted Snowden asylum in 2013, straining already tense ties with Washington.

"I won't keep it secret that he…wants to return back home. And we are doing everything possible now to solve this issue. There is a group of U.S. lawyers, there is also a group of German lawyers and I'm dealing with it on the Russian side."…

Snowden has said in the past he would like to return home if he was assured he would be given a fair trial.

Back in November 2013, I argued that President Obama should offer Snowden clemency by giving him a pardon. As I noted:

"The irony is obvious," journalist Glenn Greenwald wrote in June, "The same people who are building a ubiquitous surveillance system to spy on everyone in the world, including their own citizens, are now accusing the person who exposed it of 'espionage.'" The heads of the agencies that ordered and oversaw a vast program of illegal domestic warrantless wiretapping during the Bush administration were given a blanket pardon for their activities in 2008. Then-Sen. Obama voted in favor of this retroactive immunity….

[W]hat would happen if Snowden were to "face justice" in 21st century America? In a July Washington Post op-ed, Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg noted that when he was arrested for unauthorized disclosures, he was released on his own recognizance the same day. In modern America, Ellsberg believes, Snowden would not be so fortunate. "There is zero chance that he would be allowed out on bail if he returned now," Ellsberg wrote. Instead Snowden would be held "incommunicado" and "almost certainly be confined in total isolation."…

As Snowden correctly concludes, "Citizens have to fight suppression of information on matters of vital public importance. To tell the truth is not a crime." If we succeed in halting the march toward the "turnkey totalitarian state" that former NSA executive William Binney warned about last year, it will be in large measure because of Snowden's revelations. Mr. President, pardon Edward Snowden now. We'll give him medals later.

Mr. President: You can still do the right thing.

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  1. And it was the last anyone saw of Edward Snowden.

    1. I could just imagine myself with my Loser Aura getting on a plane and finding myself sitting right next to Snowden for his return trip to the US.

      Being the coward I was, I’d shake his hand and thank him for his service to the country and then run off the plane. No way that plane isn’t going to go KAL 007 on the way home.

    2. Yeah, I’ll believe Snowden will get a fair trial when I see Clapper and Alexander prosecuted.

  2. Mr. President: You can still do the right thing.

    Watch how fast he goes.

    1. He spoke a lot of right things during the campaign. Since inauguration, bupkis. Why should he change now of all times?

      1. It could be that there is just very little he can do. That the national security bureaucracy runs far outside the control of the chief executive.

        On a somewhat related topic (the chief executive just can’t do that much), there is an interesting analysis of his seemingly contradictory stances and actions on drug reform by the New York Bar Association.

        I hope that these ideas aren’t realistic assessments of our situation. If so, we’re in real trouble.

        1. His flop-flops involve far more than just national security. I can’t think of a single subject he didn’t change opinions on, other than his own worth.

          1. Wait. Are you trying to tell me that his opinion of himself didn’t really evolve from “Best president of the last 100 years” to “Best president ever!!”? That he always thought he was the best president ever, but just kept that opinion hidden so that he could fool the rubes into electing him one more time?

            You sure are cynical.

            1. Dang, got me. I meant his opinion of his own worth hand’t flip-flopped. Obviously it’s gotten better from experience. I mean his opinion has gotten better.

              YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN!!! At least I do!

          2. Not so sure this is entirely accurate. He has basically done what he campaigned on in terms of economic regulations, healthcare, etc.

            1. Only superficially. If you look at the actual details versus what was campaigned on, the intersection between the two is vanishingly small. Just because he did something and called it “healthcare reform” for example does not mean it lines up with even the gist of what he promised to do.

            2. Yeah, if he had campaigned on “I’ll do something about X” with zero specifics, you’d be right.

              But what he campaigned on, in specific, and what he has actually done, in specific, don’t line up. At all.

        2. Your links don’t work. The President can issue a pardon regardless of what the “national security bureaucracy” wants.

          1. Even if the bureaucracy could do something about it, the President has shown no reticence in creating potential Constitutional crises, why would he be reticent on this issue?

          2. What the fuck? My links never seem to work.

            https://reason.com/archives/201…..rity-state

            http://www2.nycbar.org/pdf/rep…..eaties.pdf

            1. My links never seem to work.

              I’m pretty sure that means you have the diabeetus.

          3. I agree that the President can issue a pardon whenever he wants. Whether he’s willing to do so in the face of structural incentives against it is a different matter.

            I just thought that these considerations might lend at least a little insight to how we went from a Presidential candidate who made these things into issues to one who just doesn’t seem to give a shit. It’s entirely possible that he really is just a mendacious sociopath. It’s also possible that there are real barriers to doing something about these issues.

            1. What barriers could there be?

              That the pardon might be scrutinized by Congress? Well, so what? If it’s the right thing to do, you should be willing to bear the scrutiny.

              That the bureaucracy would become uncooperative? What does their cooperation matter if you believe they are lawless to begin with?

              That it might tarnish his reputation? Are we to elevate the President’s narcissism to such levels that it overrides any principle?

              There are no excuses here. Ultimately, the President doesn’t have any interest in pardoning Snowden or otherwise reigning in the bureaucracy, or else he would be doing something about it.

              1. Yeah, its hard to think of anything more self-executing than a pardon.

                Sure, it won’t prevent Snowden from being assassinated by the national security state, but if they are bound and determined to do that, nothing can stop them short of an all-out purge of the entire apparatus.

        3. Last I checked, pardons were still something he could do.

          Also, he campaigned on Hope and Change. A big part of his initial appeal to the electorate was him saying that the country lost its head after 9/11 and he would return it to sanity. Instead, he dumped gasoline onto the dumpster fire.

          1. Agreed. But he did genuinely seem to give a crap about these things. As much as he gave a crap about policy objectives which he actually followed through on (a number of economic reforms, healthcare, climate stuff) despite intense opposition. This cuts against him being a complete political opportunist and does have at least some things that he considers important political objectives.

            1. I think you give him way too much credit for being honest about what he says he wants. Even when he follows through on something, he does it in a crass and politically divisive way.

              I think he wants the positive assessment of his peers, i.e. the people in his social circles. He doesn’t really care about the issues or the people affected by what he does.

              He makes the “limousine liberals” of yore seem positively principled by comparison.

  3. Snowden has said in the past he would like to return home if he was assured he would be given a fair trial.

    So, not until the collapse of the country into a vast wasteland ruled by roving cannibal pedophile rape motorcycle gangs.

    Got it.

    1. So post-apocalyptic America is just nothing but STEVE SMITH.

      1. more like STEVE SMITH AFTER DARK

  4. “Mr. President: You can still do the right thing.”

    Oh, Ron, you’re such a card.

    1. Mr. President: You can still do the right thing.

      Until I see an example, I have trouble believing that he is actually capable.

  5. if he was assured he would be given a fair trial

    In the court of public opinion? Not a chance.

  6. Maybe if the A-G flew to Moscow and signed some kind of proactive pardon document on live television.

  7. Obama already has a Nobel Peace Prize. Now that he has it, he needn’t bother doing anything Nobel.

    1. Or peaceful.

      The efforts exhausted his natural supply until he was left with only “ignoble” and “asshole”. Now he’ll have to use his brain tentacle to suck the Nobel and Peace from the minds of others.

      Goddamn Swedes.

  8. “The irony is obvious.”

    It is so blatant that 50% of Americans cannot see it. It’s worse than that yellow and white dress that is actually blue and black.

  9. I don’t know what his motivations are, but I hope he’s not intending to appease the “if he really thinks what he did was right, he should face the music” crowd. I don’t think most of them actually believe that; I think they just dislike him and see it as a convenient way to malign him. I doubt facing trial will satisfy any of them.

    1. It would satisfy them if he got the death penalty (which would be carried out with eye blinking rapidity).

  10. Not only should Snowden be pardoned, he should also be a witness for the prosecution in the trial of James Clapper.

    1. This x 1000. Clapper should be swinging from a rope for his crimes.

      1. Don’t be so hard on him. If General Hayden can see the light how far behind can Clapper be?

  11. Yo Eddie, stay in Russia. Keep banging that ex spy chick. And keep telling our president to go kick rocks. Seriously they will muzzle you, and completely bury you.

    1. Isn’t his gf in Moscow with him? Did I miss something about her being a spy?

  12. A fair trial, hell all he needs to do is get a public trial and he’ll never set foot in a courtroom. There is no way the government would risk that kind of public release of information

    1. They’ll go “state secrets” on anything that makes the government look bad.

    2. The trial he’d get would be fair. But he’d be tried under the Espionage Act, which is inherently unfair.

      1. We’re gonna give you a fair trial, followed by a first class hanging. /Cobb Obama

  13. IT’S A TRAP!

  14. If he comes back, I have no doubt he will be shot during an FBI interrogation.

    1. No, but we will finally see a fully functional Jack Rubybot.

  15. Is there a snowballs chance in Hell that any trial involving Edward Snowden would be anything besides one giant [REDACTED]?

    1. Ice Capades?

  16. I have always thought the answer is to give him immunity and have him speak before a COngressional committee. Then if someone wants to argue that Snowden has perjured himself, he can be charged with that

    The problem of course for the government is that Snowden does not seem to have perjured himself.

    1. If Snowden is given immunity to testify about government criminality the terrorists have won. Or the Russians. Or the Chinese. Or something.

      1. Keep going

        1. Up With People?

      2. The problem of course for the government is that Snowden does not seem to have perjured himself.

        Clapper and Alexander, on the other hand…

    2. Couldn’t Congress offer Snowden complete immunity in advance of him testifying before various committees?

      Yeah, I know that both teams hate his guts, but if the GOP were smart, they’d give him immunity just to watch Obama’s head explode. Can’t they do the right thing for the wrong reasons?

      1. You’re talking about the Stupid Party…

        1. It also pre-supposes that the GOP gives a shit about the NSA’s activities. I am certain that were it put to a GOP vote they’d expand it, rather than curtail it.

          1. That is why I said they’d do the right thing for the wrong reasons.

            They’d rather fuck Obama over than protect the NSA. Sure in a perfect world, they would screw over Obama AND carry water for the NSA, but if they have to pick one…

        2. Half the GOP wants him dead. Not going to happen.

  17. American justice is the envy of the world. This, and our freedom, is why they hate us.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

    Stay away, buddy. Far, far away.

    1. They hate us for our freedoms which is why, to keep them safe, we had to put them in a secure location where no one can ever get to them again.

    2. American justice is the envy of the world.

      Sadly, it is.

  18. I keep picturing the ambush/arrest scene from Braveheart…

    1. ^THIS^

  19. DON”T FUCKING DO IT!

  20. I also love the fact how my progressive friends have completely ignored this whole thing and has actually made excuses for the President. If this was in 2006, the progressives would lift this man above their shoulders and call him a true patriot.

    1. I thought the NAS thing had the potential to do the most damage to Obama, because it had the potential to hurt him with at least a significant portion of his base. Unfortunately few national politicians from the GOP stepped forward to keep going at the administration over this, because, TERRORISTS of something I guess.

      1. I thought the NAS thing had the potential to do the most damage to Obama

        There was a hip-hop scandal, and I missed it?!

      2. There’s so much “Blame Bush” potential here, I’m shocked the Democrats didn’t step forward and thank him for “stepping forward and shining a light on an abuses established by the Bush Administration”.

        1. But by the time Snowden leaked the Obama administration had overseen it for years (and expanded upon it).

          1. Like that ever matters to a “BOOOOOSH dun it!eleventy!”

      3. because it had the potential to hurt him with at least a significant portion of his base.

        That would be feasible if at least a sliver of his base was capable of putting principles before principals. Short of dismembering a baby on national TV, I don’t know what happenstance could possibly inspire Obama’s base to turn on him. Even then they’d probably call his actions a heroic display of “the right to choose”.

        1. Obama could murder people’s grandmothers on live television and most of his supporters would say: “She had it coming anyways. I mean she voted for Romney!”

    2. I also love the fact how my progressive friends have completely ignored this whole thing and has actually made excuses for the President.

      It’s often principals over principles.

    3. If this was in 2006, the progressives would lift this man above their shoulders and call him a true patriot.

      Some do – I see “Thanks Edward Snowden” lamppost stickers around Brooklyn. I actually think he’s torn the prog community in half.

  21. Any administration that cared a fig for the privacy and liberties of its citizens would award Snowden a medal, but we have the one we have now.

    1. Snowden will spend the rest of his life in exile and George Tenet was given a medal after he failed to prevent 9/11. What is this country coming to?

  22. I’m honestly surprised this guy is still alive.

    1. He doesn’t criticize Putin and he’s too high profile for the US to get away with it. The only people who really hate him work in intelligence and are not likely to be going to Russia any time soon.

      1. Well, they won’t be making any personal trips to Russia.

      2. I figured our government had agents operating in Russia like that fictional documentary starring the delicious Keri Russell who could snipe the guy and then fade into the darkness.

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  25. Hey, Snowden knows what he wants to do, and I hope whatever path he chooses works. However, theoretically, I wonder what the climate in this country will be in 10 years. Or twenty. If he could wait that long (or would want to) I wonder if the scales would have finally fallen from the eyes of the average American, and he could come home a hero? Surely, in 10 or 20 years, the corruption of the NSA, etc. will be much more obvious to Joe Sixpack than it is today.

    1. Interesting point. It strikes me that this consideration is exactly why Snowden wants to come home now. He realizes in 10-15 years, we’ll be so far along this road that the public will demand his instant execution should he ever set foot in America.

  26. I pretty much despise “activism” because I really hate all people and want to be left alone to stew in my own stink, but I would hold a placard and protest on behalf of Edward Snowden.

    Above all else, stay safe, Edward.

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  28. Don’t do it man. It’s a trap.

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