Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency (NSA) contractor who revealed two years ago the existence of a vast and unconstitutional domestic surveillance state run by U.S. intelligence agencies, has offered to go to prison, according the Associated Press. Owing almost entirely to Snowden's disclosures, Congress and the Obama administration have taken minor steps to rein in federal spying on American citizens.
From the AP:
Snowden told the BBC that he'd "volunteered to go to prison with the government many times," but had not received a formal plea-deal offer.
He said that "so far they've said they won't torture me, which is a start, I think. But we haven't gotten much further than that."
In an interview broadcast Monday on the BBC's "Panorama" program, Snowden said he and his lawyers were waiting for U.S. officials "to call us back."
Earlier this year, former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said a plea deal with Snowden was a possibility.
Agreeing to prison time appears to be shift. My colleague Scott Shackford has earlier reported:
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.
The AP further reports:
FBI deputy director Mark Giuliano told the BBC that Snowden was a traitor.
"The question is, if I was a traitor, who did I betray?" Snowden said. "I gave all of my information to American journalists and free society generally.
"I have paid a price but I feel comfortable with the decisions I've made," he added. "If I'm gone tomorrow, I'm happy with what I had. I feel blessed."
The federal officials who secretly orchestrated a massive illegal domestic spying program are the real traitors.
As I argued in my article "President Obama: Pardon Edward Snowden":
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.
Snowden is not the person who needs to be prosecuted for betraying the American people. This guy should be.