Edward Snowden

Trump Teases Possible Edward Snowden Pardon. He Should Do It!

At least something good could come out of this mess of an investigation.

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During an interview with the New York Post Thursday, President Donald Trump wondered aloud whether he should let surveillance whistleblower Edward Snowden return to the United States. He even went so far as to solicit responses from his staff.

Per the Post, Trump discussed it, as he discusses many things, through the filter of what happened to him. After complaining that his campaign had been surveilled, he pivoted to Snowden:

"Snowden is one of the people they talk about. They talk about numerous people, but he is certainly one of the people that they do talk about," Trump said on Thursday, before turning to his aides. "I guess the DOJ [Department of Justice] is looking to extradite him right now?…It's certainly something I could look at. Many people are on his side, I will say that. I don't know him, never met him. But many people are on his side."

The president then asked his staff: "How do you feel about that, Snowden? Haven't heard the name in a long time."

After polling the room, Trump added: "I've heard it both ways. From traitor to he's being you know persecuted. I've heard it both ways."

There's no explanation of what Trump means when he says "they" are talking about Snowden, but it's a familiar Trump tic to indicate some sort of unidentified group of people is talking about an issue whenever he's talking about it.

This isn't the first time Snowden was brought up to Trump this week. At a press briefing on Tuesday, a reporter mentioned that the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General had found issues with the warrant applications to wiretap former Trump campaign aide Carter Page, and that part of Snowden's surveillance claims were that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court tends to rubber-stamp warrant requests. Given that, the journalist continued, should Snowden be allowed to return to the United States without facing criminal charges?

Trump didn't directly answer the question then, turning instead to complaining that his campaign had been illegally spied upon and then pivoting to talking about how "nasty" Kamala Harris had been to Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. (This was the day Biden named Harris as his running mate.) He never even mentioned Snowden at all.

Prior to becoming president, Trump was very much in the "Snowden is a traitor" camp. The Post notes he had on 45 separate occasions tweeted denunciations of Snowden, who revealed that the National Security Agency (NSA) had been collecting and storing huge amounts of Americans' phone and online data records. At one point Trump called for his execution.

But that was then and this is now. Trump's idea has gained support from Snowden's usual supporters. Rep. Thomas Massie (R–Ky.), for example, tweeted this today:

Don't assume that this means a pardon is on the way. Although he complains a lot about the FISA court and federal surveillance of him and his campaign staff, Trump signed a bill in 2018 that renewed and even expanded the government's ability to secretly wiretap Americans. On the other hand, his displeasure with a bill that renewed some of the PATRIOT Act's surveillance powers prompted Republicans in Congress to reverse their previous support, and it did not pass.

In related FISA court surveillance news, today former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith, who had been assigned to the team handling the investigation into possible Russian ties to Trump's campaign, revealed he'll be pleading guilty to charges that he altered an email from the CIA that was used to justify the Page wiretaps. Who knows? Maybe an actual conviction of someone who broke the law while investigating people close to Trump might convince the president that Snowden was right to reveal the security state's surveillance.

NEXT: Former Drug Warrior Kamala Harris Wants To Legalize Pot. Can She Flip Joe Biden?

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  1. Interesting development. Let’s hope it develops!

    1. Finally something we can all agree on. Trump should pardon Snowden.

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      2. He should pardon him, but he should wait until his second term. Pardoning Snowden right now is likely just going to hurt his chances.

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  2. a pardon and a medal.

    1. Send the intelligence community over the edge by giving him the Distinguished Intelligence Medal

      I think a pardon is good enough.

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  3. If nothing else, he should do it as a fuck you to the intelligence community for trying to frame him as a Russian agent. Make those worthless bastards pay a price for once. Believe me, having to watch Snowden get pardoned and then make a fortune on the lecture circuit would kill those assholes. Oh God would it make them miserable. Can’t think of a more deserving group for such misery.

    1. Excellent point! But he perhaps ought to wait til after the election, just to avoid getting their dander up so much that they work with the DNC in stuffing boxes, both mail and ballot.

      1. Do it now. The IC already did try to end his president the last time around, so if they are so inclined they will do it again.

        Justice deferred is justice denied.

        1. Church Committee Hearings 2.0 might be better vengeance on those clowns than pardoning Snowden.

        2. What’s the IC? And whose president is “his president?” And who is “he” of “his?”

          1. IC = Intelligence Community
            I think “his president” is a typo and should be “his (Trump’s) presidency”.

    2. “…he should do it as a fuck you to the intelligence community for trying to frame him as a Russian agent…”

      Was he not? I mean, not at first—-at first, Snowden was a whistleblower about ECHELON, et al—but didn’t he later become one, in order to secure asylum in Russia? I have to imagine his bride price was fairly steep, and it’s not like Snowden could really say ‘No’, at that point.

      1. No I mean trying to frame Trump as a Russian agent. Snowden was a Russian agent. I have no doubt about that.

        Sorry that wasn’t clear.

        1. I’ve doubts he was a Russian agent. Maybe now he is and he’s certainly compromised at this point. Russia was just his best option to flee to where the USA couldn’t get him. I saw first hand how the FBI treated NSA whistle-blowers, who went the correct path prior to Snowden, when they raided my neighbors house.

          1. Even if he is, the public had a right to know what he leaked. So, frankly I don’t care. He should be pardoned.

            1. Definitely agree on that.

              1. LIkewise.

            2. Fair. Necessity is a hell of a defense. Particularly when the side whose secrets you’re supposed to be keeping, is the side who might be trying to kill you.

          2. I think it’s a bit of a moot point either way. I think, as Ron points out below, the pardon wouldn’t exactly be an open invitation to come back to the US. It would just allow him to move around in more neutral territory while potentially running the even greater risk of getting assassinated by two nations’ clandestine services.

            The pardon and the medal might at least shield him from Russia were he to leave but I still don’t think he’d be safe walking the streets anywhere in the U.S.

            1. the medal

              A medal. AFAIK, no one outside these forums is talking about giving him a medal.

              1. Jane Fonda is still running around. Ditto Christopher Boyce and Andrew Lee. Not the case for big fish like the Walkers, Ames, or Hanssen, but if they were released, I doubt 1 in 100 would recognize them or their names.

                Memories are short. Give him a name change, minor plastic surgery, no one would know or care who Snowden was in 10 years.

                1. Give him a name change, minor plastic surgery, no one would know or care who Snowden was in 10 years.

                  I don’t know how you openly invite people over but, to me, this isn’t exactly incongruent with “Not an open invitation”.

                  1. Agree. I was more responding to your second paragraph. I just don’t think people would care most places. Military bases excepted: the guys I know still serving, or in related other government work, near universally hate the guy.

                    Me, I’m torn. What he revealed about our government spying on it’s own citizens, without warrant or cause, needed to be exposed. Even at the risk of making a subsequent attack easier. That said, I don’t know exactly what he gave the Russians, but it may have put a whole lot of other people at risk. Both US personnel, and the foreign nationals working for the US.

                    Tough, tough decision.

                    1. That said, I don’t know exactly what he gave the Russians, but it may have put a whole lot of other people at risk. Both US personnel, and the foreign nationals working for the US.

                      I am and have consistently called bullshit on this. If the bodies were piling up, it would be easy to name at least a few. They mean he put other people at risk of carpal tunnel sifting through phone records.

                      I can point to HRC’s insecure handling of all kinds of intelligence and Chris Stephens’ corpse. Where are the Snowden corpses?

                2. Snowden could transition…

            2. He is in far greater danger of dying at the hands of the CIA or Mossad than the FSB if he leaves.

    3. Snowden would probably have a pillow accident before he could make any money after a pardon

    4. I agree = he should do it as a fuck you to the intelligence community for trying to frame him as a Russian agent

      Edward Snowden is a genuine American patriot, IMO.

  4. If his intent was to expose illegal NSA surveillance on the US public (and I think it was), he should be pardoned. There’s potential blowback, so he probably wouldn’t do it before the election.

  5. Biden: “If President, I should make masks mandatory.”
    Trump: “We should think about pardoning Snowden.”

    As someone else pointed out during the riots, it’s beginning to look like a vote against Trump is a vote against civilization.

    1. That’s two data points. And data points about things both men have said they would do, not about what they have done.

      1. Right. Because if I made an exhaustive list, it wouldn’t be just a contemporary/relevant example and things don’t get much less authoritarian better for Biden.

      2. Yeah, data about what they have done is even clearer.

  6. Who cares sleepy joe will probably pardon him and try to smell his hair.

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    2. If a Biden presidency is a continuation of Obama’s policies, he ain’t gonna pardon Snowden. He’s gonna throw the book at even more whistleblowers.

      1. Another data point.

        1. Yes, it is.

  7. There’s no explanation of what Trump means when he says “they” are talking about Snowden, but it’s a familiar Trump tic to indicate some sort of unidentified group of people is talking about an issue whenever he’s talking about it.

    This isn’t the first time Snowden was brought up to Trump this week.

    [Emphasis added] It’s probably safe to assume that’s what Trump was talking about when he said “they.” *shrugs* Whatever, here’s hoping he actually does pardon Snowden. If nothing else it should be fun to watch the “orange man bad” crowd come out in favor of the surveillance state and twist themselves into pretzels trying to explain why pardoning Snowden is a bad thing.

    1. It would be a good thing for Trump to pardon Snowden. In the end, I’m predicting Trump won’t actually do it because he is afraid of the reaction from his own conservative base.

      But, who knows. He’s certainly floating the idea and no doubt wants to see what response that gets.

      1. He can do it after the election either way.

        If he loses, he should leave some turds around for Biden, returning Obama’s favors.

  8. Sad part is, trump is only using this as a threat to the IC and justice dept. Snowden is a pawn for trump, and I guess I don’t blame him. But it’s probably just trumps way of negotiating. I seriously don’t expect to see him pardoned. And Asange needs to be pardoned or pre pardoned before Snowden.

    1. Unfortunately for both Snowden and Assange, too many people favor “killing the messenger,” but yeah, both should be pardoned.

    2. Trump has been talking about maybe someone should pardon Snowden for years.

    3. Assange was a Russian stooge. Snowden has some small amount of plausible deniability on that count, except for the inconvenience of where he happens to live.

      1. You are full of shit, and have ZERO evidence for those statements. He showed our government’s ass to the world, and they can’t have that.

        Assange has never published ANYTHING that needed to be retracted. Would that the rags serving this country could make such a claim.

        If the US government hates you, it’s a good bet there is something you are doing right.

      2. According to Tony, actual self declared Marxists aren’t Marxists. But nerdy left libertarian types who publish info on US government malfeasance are definitely Russian stooges!

  9. Nobody has the right to make anyone swear to secrecy if we have the right to free speech.

    1. Make? Sure. Pay? Then you start arguing that the right to free speech trumps free association, petition, security in possessions…

      1. Treat it as a breach of contract. Enforcing contracts is still fine in Libertopia, right?

        1. People have the free will to change their minds.

          No Legal contract should be able to violate our inalienable rights.

          1. Excellent point Rob. Such “contracts” are unenforceable. On a similar note, when the SCOTUS created the legal loophole for right’s violating govt. agents by stating that a “waiver of rights” is a get away with it permission, they were rationalizing away, abet badly, the concept of rights.

          2. You have no inalienable right to classified information. Just as you have no inalienable right to join the military. Each comes with penalties for violating the rules.

            1. The rule being violated is free speech.

              1. No. If you sign the NDA to gain access to government information, you don’t have a free speech right to disclose that information to unauthorized persons.

                1. NDA’s violate our inalienable right to free speech.

                  1. No they don’t.

          3. People have the free will to change their minds.

            No Legal contract should be able to violate our inalienable rights.

            This is retarded. Not only is it orthogonal (imaginary colors exist too, should we debate people’s rights to imaginary colors?), it simply passes the buck. If free will is the paramount right, can you freely enter into a contract that says you honor the contract or I get to exercise my free will and shoot you to death? This isn’t Monopoly, hell, even in Monopoly you don’t just get to shout “Get out of Jail Free!” and get to do whatever you like.

        2. It is treated as a breach of contract. You sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement when granted access to classified information. You can refuse to sign and forgo access.

          1. You can’t legally create or sign a contract that allows you to murder which violates our right to life.

            For exactly the same reason it should be illegal to create or sign a contract of secrecy, which violates our right to free speech.

            If you want to violate our rights YOU assume all the risk.

            1. We have INALIENABLE rights.

              Here is the definition of inalienable.

              “not subject to being taken away from or given away by the possessor:“

            2. I assume you would not be upset if the FBI or IRS made your files public, free speech and all.

              1. You obviously don’t value 1a.

                Free speech doesn’t need to conflict with personal privacy.

                If one Perceived right appears to conflict with another, one or both cannot be inalienable rights.

                1. Post your IRS release form to prove your 1A commitment.

                  1. One doesn’t correlate with the other.

                    You obviously don’t understand the concepts of logic or free speech.

                    1. You obviously don’t understand conditional access to government information.

                    2. I understand that it violates our inalienable right to free speech that by definition can’t be taken from or given away by us all.

                    3. Got it. You don’t understand. Under your rules government employees couldn’t be punished for disclosing government information. It is their right to disclose secrets.

                    4. Took you long enough.

                    5. I understand you are wrong. Fortunately, saner people are in charge.

                    6. I understand you are wrong. Fortunately, saner people are in charge.

                      Yup. Free will isn’t an inalienable right. Not even in the Mystic Roberts Constitution. The FF lacked the basal level retardedness to assume that you could forbid, ensure, or defend poeple’s “will”.

                    7. Free will shares the same definition as liberty which is an inalienable right.

                      Not much of a libertarian are you?

                      Free speech is an inalienable right also.

                      The ONLY WAY ANYONE you, or your boss or the government can legally guarantee keeping a secret in a nation where liberty and free speech are inalienable rights is to not tell anyone.

                    8. You join the pantheon of true libertarians like Hihn. Thanks for sharing.

  10. In about a month mail voting will open in some states. Trump should pardon Snowden then. It will get his opponents more seething than anything he’s done lately, and rather than take advantage they’ll be totally discombobulated.

    A month later, deschedule marijuana — which a few people have anticipated for some time ‐ and ‘shrooms — which nobody sees coming.

    Then be in Moscow for election day, getting a lot of photos with Putin.

  11. If I were Ed Snowden I would be puckering up for a big fat Trump ass tongue massage like there was no ass that tasted sweeter.

  12. Edward Snowden is a HERO. Every damn city should have a statue of him. ALL whistleblowers are heroes!

  13. How about a Julian Assange pardon – for not doing anything wrong.

    Instead, the USA and UK are murdering him in front of everyone.

    And Snowden is a hero. I was in Moscow a few years ago and would loved to have run into him and shake his hand.

    1. Julian’s main trouble is alleged antinuclear sabotage. The kid lacks basic knowledge of health physics, the meaning of energy, the Seebeck effect or how an inverse-square law makes sunlight too feeble to power gear near Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune. Someone in gubmint thinks he has just enough cunning to have interfered with a launch by hacking servers–which may or may not be true.

  14. One commenter said in ten years, no one will know who Snowden was. People who care about freedom will know who Snowden was a hundred years from now. Others, members of the security state, will want to forget him.

    Everything that happened in 2013 and after shows Snowden was right. Some people have to wait decades to be vindicated, as public opinion gradually change. Snowden was vindicated instantaneously, when the security state tried to chase him down.

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  17. Snowden is both a liar and a traitor. The person who puts a bullet in him should be pardoned.

    1. He’s a hero who spoke truth to coercive power.

      Corrupt cowards NEED to violate people’s inalienable right to free speech to maintain their tenuous grasp on false narratives from which coercive power is stolen.

  18. Pardon + The Medal of Honor!
    Snowden risked his life, his career, his future with the woman he loves, all to inform the public. Govt. thugs hide behind classifying their actions, lying, propaganda. They have no respect for anyone or anything except their power lust, if “respect” can be used. It’s more a sick addiction.

  19. no, he shouldn’t. a leak of an illegal program under circumstances in which the legit avenues are blocked is one thing. Snowden was not that by several orders of magnitude. he leaked national security information haphazardly & without regard to which programs were properly authorized, and which were off the reservation. glad he got the illegal stiff out there, but he cannot be praised for arbitrary and thoughtless exposure of critical and legal programs.

    1. There wouldn’t be corruption without secrets.

      Being legal doesn’t make something right.

      Free speech is ALWAYS an inalienable right.

      Get over it.

    2. Who told you that he exposed “critical and legal programs”?
      The same people, whose pants were pulled down, in public, when he exposed their illegal activities?
      Those never-explained “critical and legal” programs are the cover being used to demonize him, when all he did was inform the American public of the government’s spying.

  20. I like Snowden. But if the LP is serious we should nominate him for something. He’d be a much better candidate than most so-called libertarians and infiltrators. Has he even joined the party though? There is a Libertarian Party in Russia, and the UK LP has a liberal policy on accepting foreigners as members.

  21. If only the stable genius would follow through. But he’ll just take a mulligan and misdirect again.

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  23. Pardon Snowden and Assange!

    1. And Ms Manning…

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