Edward Snowden

Don't Hold Your Breath Hoping for a Deal That Would Bring Edward Snowden Home

Don't forget the Obama administration's record of going after whistleblowers.

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So dreamy!
The Guardian

It's extremely obvious that the information leaked by Edward Snowden has been a huge boon for privacy-loving Americans in scaling back—even if only just a bit—the authority of the National Security Agency (NSA) and FBI to snoop on the country's own citizens with little oversight. The USA Freedom Act would not have passed (or even existed) without him. Section 215 of the Patriot Act, granting the federal government extremely broad data collection permissions, might not have expired without him.

Nevertheless (or "Because of this" if you're feeling particularly cynical), the Department of Justice wants to arrest and charge Snowden with violations of the Espionage Act. But now, former Attorney General Eric Holder has told Yahoo News that there's the possibility of a deal for Snowden and admitted that Snowden's leaks weren't all bad news:

In an interview with Yahoo News, Holder said "we are in a different place as a result of the Snowden disclosures" and that "his actions spurred a necessary debate" that prompted President Obama and Congress to change policies on the bulk collection of phone records of American citizens.

Asked if that meant the Justice Department might now be open to a plea bargain that allows Snowden to return from his self-imposed exile in Moscow, Holder replied: "I certainly think there could be a basis for a resolution that everybody could ultimately be satisfied with. I think the possibility exists."

A plea deal probably would have always been on the table should Snowden agree to return home. That's how the Department of Justice operates, and it's tough to imagine Snowden even coming back to America without one.

But Holder's no longer the attorney general, and therefore his suggestion that the DOJ might be willing to give Snowden a three- to five-year sentence if he pleads guilty to just one charge should be met with some skepticism. Indeed, CNN reports today that the source of the idea for the plea agreement, Robert Litt, chief counsel for the Director of National Intelligence, was just expressing his personal opinion and is not the one calling the shots. The DOJ and the White House both say their position on bringing Snowden home to face charges hasn't changed. But note that's not actually a contradictory position. He could come home and "face charges" through a plea deal.

The Obama Administration has abused the Espionage Act seven times to prosecute people who leak government information to the media, more than all previous presidents combined. Snowden would have to be crazy or extremely desperate to return home without a deal in writing that guarantees him no jail time at the very least. (He'll just have to rely on the private sector to provide the tickertape parade.) Indeed, Ben Wizner, Snowden's attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, agrees, telling Yahoo News there will be no deal that includes any sort of prison time:

Wizner, Snowden's lawyer, said any felony plea by Snowden that results in prison time would be unacceptable to his client. "Our position is he should not be reporting to prison as a felon and losing his civil rights as a result of his act of conscience," he said.

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  1. You don’t think Snowden will be on the lame duck pardon list?

    C’mon. Obama could save his legacy if he mass pardoned nonviolent offenders and snowden and manning… but he won’t, because failure and idiocy are his legacy.

  2. Snowden committed the ultimate crime of L?se-majest?. If he only spilled state secrets, or endangered US troops, or even made Bush look bad, some kind of deal could be arranged. But, he made the Great One look bad, putting himself beyond the pale.

    1. racist- beyond the pale is obviously a dig because the president is black.

      1. I think it was more of a dig at his Irish roots.

        1. I thought the tonight show band got a goat skinned drum or sumfin’.

        2. Or maybe it is discussion I had about Polish anti-semitism that drew me that way, what with Ukraine and Poland having large Jewish population under old Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

          At any rate, clearly lots of re-education is needed. Possibly at some place where I can also eat and sleep, so as to make it easier all around, and with others of my ilk. Kinda like a child summer camp, but for adults.

          1. yes. and if you don’t learn, it’s ok. we have some warm showers for you to relax in.

  3. President Obama welcomed the debate that Snowden never should have started. Everyone knows that had he simply told his superiors who already knew about the illegal searches, they would have informed Congress who already knew about the illegal searches, who then would have brought it to the attention of Obama who already knew about the illegal searches, and then he could have fulfilled his oath and put a stop to it.

    Snowden never had to leak the data. There were other ways.

    1. My brain hurt when I heard Adam Baldwin say this exact thing. And saddest thing – wasn’t the stupidest thing said in the interview.

  4. fuck the squirrels

    1. and that one finally wen’t through 😉

      1. not just me then?!

      2. shit fucking sonofabitch! How many times do I have to respond to this letting you know you aren’t alone in your battle against the squirrels?!

        Acorns are for cunts.

          1. well that’s just mean.

    2. If they don’t fix it by the time PM Links roll around, FoE is gonna get cross!

  5. Snowden should only accept prison time if Clapper is his cellmate.

    1. They can make a sitcom about it!

    2. They can make a sitcom about it!

    3. They can make a sitcom about it!

      1. You really like this idea, don’t you?

  6. Snowden should get accolades like the Congressional Medal of Freedom rather than a prison term.

    1. That probably will only happen 20-30 years after the DOJ drops charges.

  7. Two thoughts. One, the grownup thing to do would be to follow in the footsteps of his civil-disobedience forebears and take his punishment. You don’t get to pick and choose which laws apply to you, even dreadful ones. But two, I don’t begrudge any human being for attempting to evade the US criminal so-called justice system.

    1. His civil disobedience forebears weren’t facing a lifetime of getting sodomized in federal supermax for the crime of making Chocolate Nixon look bad. Still Hopin’ for that Change.

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