The Case For A Pardon For Edward Snowden

President_Barack_Obama228px-Picture_of_Edward_SnowdenBelow is my column in the Sunday Los Angeles Times on the basis for a pardon for Edward Snowden. It is clear that President Obama (and ranking congressional members) are opposed to such clemency. Snowden embarrassed a great number of powerful people in Washington, including the President. However, there is historical precedent for such a pardon and compelling arguments that such a course may be the right course for the country.

Former CIA Director R. James Woolsey weighed in last week on the subject of Edward Snowden. Asked about calls of clemency for the former National Security Agency contractor, Woolsey insisted that Snowden should be “hanged by the neck until he is dead.”
Woolsey reflects the current thinking in Washington: reform for the NSA and the rope for Snowden. However, it may be time for President Obama to show real leadership and acknowledge that Snowden is the reason for the current reform push.
It may be time to pardon Edward Snowden.

He has almost certainly committed criminal acts in removing and disclosing classified material. As someone who has held a top-secret clearance since the Reagan administration, I do not condone such violations of national security laws. However, Snowden is a better candidate for clemency than many believe.
A presidential pardon is not an endorsement of the underlying actions of an individual. To the contrary, the vast majority of pardons follow criminal convictions. Rather, pardons are issued because of mitigating or extenuating circumstances.
Sometimes clemency is a way of healing a national divide or bringing closure to a national controversy. George Washington pardoned all of those in the Whiskey Rebellion, and John Adams considered it in “the public good” to pardon Pennsylvania rebels. Likewise, Gerald Ford did not condone the crimes of Richard Nixon, but he viewed a pardon as in the best interest of the country.
YEAR IN REVIEW: Highs, lows and an ‘other’ at the Supreme Court
Presidential pardons can be issued at any time after an alleged offense, even before a person is charged or convicted. Such was the case with Jimmy Carter’s pardon of draft dodgers and Ronald Reagan’s pardon of the six officials accused in the Iran-Contra affair.
When considered in light of the thousands of past pardon and commutation recipients, Snowden compares favorably. Indeed, there have been many questionable pardons granted over the years to well-connected defendants, like that of businessman Marc Rich, who was convicted of tax evasion and other crimes but then pardoned by Bill Clinton.
While the Obama administration continues to insist that Snowden does not fit the definition of a whistle-blower, even the White House admits that abuses occurred in the massive NSA surveillance program that he revealed. Snowden’s disclosures have prompted the creation of two task forces, one of which came back last week with a recommendation of numerous reforms. Moreover, a federal judge has now ruled that the NSA program is flagrantly unconstitutional.
Snowden may have revealed a larger volume of material, but he is not the first to disclose highly classified matters. Most whistle-blowers release either confidential or classified material. Indeed, Daniel Ellsberg’s leak of the Pentagon Papers (celebrated as one of the most important moments in our history) involved the release of classified documents that the Nixon administration insisted placed the entire nation at risk.
Snowden faced a system that was entirely uninterested in, if not outright hostile to, hearing about abuses. Indeed, various people had tried to raise questions about the extent of government surveillance in previous years. I represented one prior NSA whistle-blower who disclosed the massive surveillance program, but the public ignored him and he was threatened with arrest.
Despite such cases and media coverage, the White House and Congress turned a blind eye to abuses. It was Snowden who forced action by leaking documents to a journalist. Both Obama and congressional leaders have called for Snowden’s arrest, but he was as much their creation as his own.
Some NSA officials have already suggested that amnesty could be used to secure thousands of documents still in Snowden’s possession. A pardon could be conditioned on the return of all these documents and the signing of a nondisclosure agreement that would allow prosecution for any further disclosures.
Moreover, a pardon would demonstrate to both Americans and our allies that the White House is serious about reform, and accepts responsibility for the abuses that have been documented.
Finally, a pardon would resolve a glaring contradiction in how the White House has dealt with alleged crimes by national security officials. After all, this is the president who pledged early in his first term that no CIA employee would be investigated, let alone prosecuted, for the Bush torture program. Likewise, no one was prosecuted when CIA officials admitted destroying torture tapes to avoid their use in any future prosecution. Finally, when the NSA program was raised in public, National Intelligence Director James Clapper appeared before Congress and lied about the program. He later said that he gave the least untruthful statement he could think of. But it was nevertheless untrue and potentially a crime for which he could be prosecuted.
But instead of firing Clapper and calling for his arrest, Obama asked him to participate on a task force to review the program.
Snowden could certainly take additional actions that could destroy any claim to a pardon. However, as he stands now, he has a greater claim than many who have received reprieves. He certainly deserves the same consideration in disclosing abuses that Obama officials received in concealing them from the public.
Jonathan Turley is a professor of public interest law at George Washington University and has served as lead defense counsel in national security cases.

Los Angeles Times (Sunday) December 22, 2013

55 thoughts on “The Case For A Pardon For Edward Snowden

  1. A pardon is appropriate, but not in exchange for keeping secret the rest of the information. We already know that the secrecy has done nothing to protect Americans, quite the opposite. It is the disclosure of spy tactics that protects Americans.

  2. Despite such cases and media coverage, the White House and Congress turned a blind eye to abuses. It was Snowden who forced action by leaking documents to a journalist. Both Obama and congressional leaders have called for Snowden’s arrest, but he was as much their creation as his own.” – JT


    If we stop following The Powell Manifesto, which is false dogma, the efforts of people like Snowden will no longer be so very necessary.

  3. Pardon? I rather thought an exoneration is appropriate coupled with a commendation for serving the interests of the public in spite of a law that clumsily seeks to vitiate that act. Secrecy is the enemy of freedom everywhere when that secrecy protects the evil that men do to undermine the interest of citizens. Not understanding that the fundamental purpose of law is to serve the public’s interest and elevating it’s text above its spirit is what infuriates the public — and so offends natural justice.

  4. It is difficult to believe that this is the core outsource for National
    Security and major questions must be raised just by the nature of how this ever was put into place, let alone how
    much authentic National Security might be compromised by its connection to its parent corporation. There are absolutely no guarantees that the foundation of our National Security is not in the wrong hands…, for potential private interests or for seriously questionable reasons! PASS THIS AROUND: The Lowdown on Booz Allen is startling!
    The details of this reality should be a bigger scandal then Snowden’s revelations… It is difficult to believe that this is the core outsource for National Security and there are major questions raised just by the nature of how this ever was put into place, let alone how much authentic National Security is compromised and in the wrong hands…for questionable reasons! PASS THIS information around, it is obscured by the ongoing media fixations of Snowden as victim, saint & sinner.

  5. I agree. It will NEVER happen. He will be in exile the rest of his life. As I’ve said previously, my pragmatic hope is he gets out of Russia and to some good country where he can make a good living. He “took one for the team.”

  6. A pardon and an exoneration are necessary. But there is a bigger picture here and it goes international or what some would call ballistic.

    There have been crimes and human rights violations which are being revealed by the Pentagon Papers of the 21st Century. There should be an international human rights tribunal established to accuse, try and convict human rights criminals. In America we need to prosecute those who lied to Congress. Some guy named Clapper comes to mind.

    If I was Snowden, I would stay outside the reach of the U.S. war criminals and continue releasing documents. Keep barking Edward. I know that you read this blog. The NSA told me so.

  7. Pardon Snowden. then charge the Director of the NSA, and others for letting it happen in the first place. There is not a judge anywhere on a bench that would not grant a warrant to phone tap a known terrorist. Get the warrant, leave law abiding U.S. citizens completely out of this surveillance process. Alot of people say Bush started this process need to realize how it has expanded under new leadership. It needs to be stopped now.

  8. Well when you have no backbone to start with you don’t have far to fall….. At least bush did things and fell far…. But he turned out to be a corporate interest chromosome …..

  9. What Mespo said!
    Snowden is a whistleblower who pulled the veil away to disclose the “secret” the government is violating the law.
    By the way, I do not agree that Ford pardoned Nixon to help the country. The country and our democracy would have been better served to bring Nixon up on charges. If we had, we might not have the Presidential overreaches that we are complaining about now.

  10. Although there is precedent for a pardon, perhaps even clemency, I agree with SwM … perhaps in the distant future … maybe … posthumously.

    Right now all these “smart” Washington people have had their own incompetency so boldly exposed that pardoning Snowden is an across-the-board, ego impossibility.

    The incompetency of the officials who failed to anticipate and stop 9/11 in spite of all the warnings was supposed to have been remedied by this expanded, all encompassing new bunch of laws thus meeting the excuses given for the 9/11 failure. So what happens? A guy, right under their noses, walks out with all the secrets and releases them to the world. Nobody anticipates it, nobody stops him, and nobody could even catch him after the fact.

    So sure, all these foreign leaders are feigning indignation but behind closed doors they’re laughing their asses off at the boobs in Washington. The strutting general with the swoosh doors, the get tough on terror legislators that knowingly sanctioned lies to their Committees and their constituents, the President with the Noble Peace Prize waging a secret war on his own people’s right to privacy … all exposed to the world because, once again, the, ahem, the ‘Intelligence’ Services failed to do their job.

    As far as Washington is concerned, Snowden was another 9/11. There is no way in hell they’re going to pardon him … it’s an ego impossibility.

    As to what is in the best interests of the country? Come. On. Washington doesn’t have a clue. That’s why Snowden did what he did.

  11. An old opinion piece by Ellsberg that’s worth revisiting, given my view of what’s transpiring in the U.S.:

    Snowden made the right call when he fled the U.S.

    By Daniel Ellsberg, Published: July 7


    Many people compare Edward Snowden to me unfavorably for leaving the country and seeking asylum, rather than facing trial as I did. I don’t agree. The country I stayed in was a different America, a long time ago.

    It was, in effect, a global expansion of the Stasi, the Ministry for State Security in the Stalinist “German Democratic Republic,” whose goal was “to know everything.” But the cellphones, fiber-optic cables, personal computers and Internet traffic the NSA accesses did not exist in the Stasi’s heyday.

    As Snowden told the Guardian, “This country is worth dying for.” And, if necessary, going to prison for — for life.

    But Snowden’s contribution to the noble cause of restoring the First, Fourth and Fifth amendments to the Constitution is in his documents. It depends in no way on his reputation or estimates of his character or motives — still less, on his presence in a courtroom arguing the current charges, or his living the rest of his life in prison. Nothing worthwhile would be served, in my opinion, by Snowden voluntarily surrendering to U.S. authorities given the current state of the law.

    I hope that he finds a haven, as safe as possible from kidnapping or assassination by U.S. Special Operations forces, preferably where he can speak freely.

    What he has given us is our best chance — if we respond to his information and his challenge — to rescue ourselves from out-of-control surveillance that shifts all practical power to the executive branch and its intelligence agencies: a United Stasi of America.

  12. It’s a given that Snowden won’t be pardoned any time soon, but I’m guessing that he deeply appreciates the show of support.

  13. I agree with Mespo that Snowden should be completely exonerated and given a medal for his service to the country. Jonathan hit the highest note in his well reasoned argument when he contrasted the Obama Administration’s promise that no one would be prosecuted for the crimes committed by the prior administration, which is in effect a pardon. That administration’s record shows hundreds of thousands of foreign citizens killed; many thousands of our own troops killed and maimed; Trillion$ flushed down the toilet in two unneeded wars; thousands tortured and illegally imprisoned; and most seriously of all the compromise of our Constitution’s Bill of Rights. Yet the perpetrators and organizers are living out their lives without a care. Snowden on the other hand exposed a program that in my judgment is extra-constitutional and highly dangerous to the nature of this country’s Constitution. Despite the highly suspicious claims of harm charged by the Intelligence Community, I think the greatest damage he inflicted was bring to light the work of out of control zealots, acting out of a misguided sense that they protect the citizens as they destroy their lives.

    Bruce E. Voych’s contribution of the background of Snowden’s employer, Booz-Allen also contributes to exposing the venal criminality that is taking place here in the name of “protecting” America. Booz Allen is a wholly owned subsidiary of the infamous Carlyle Group prominently operated by the Bush Family and their Saudi Allies. It’s a sick, sad tale that I’ve written about in the past.

  14. Agree. Snowden has watched what’s happened to other whistleblowers and he’s better off staying away. If he gave himself up, there would be a plane crash, suicide, some ‘accident’ that got rid of him before he could get to trial. Better off if this ‘transparent’ administration exonerated him completely and gave him back his passport.

  15. The “pretense” to Justice is tragically amusing and Woolsey’s statement indicates clearly that they have killing him in their hearts…and you can see it in their faces. Tyranny is in their works and Snowden dared to interfere with their lust for power. As the writer Jim Garrison has pointed out ( Martial Law by Executive Order) the constitution is all but dead. Snowden would get a kangeroo court and be locked away to disappear deep inside the matrix of ‘virtual’ democracy.

  16. anonymously posted

    It’s a given that Snowden won’t be pardoned any time soon, but I’m guessing that he deeply appreciates the show of support.


    I hope so. I also hope he understands that many of his fellow countrymen understand why he took the initiative, applaud him for it, and wonder if they would have had the kind of courage he possesses. I like to think I’m a courageous sort, but I, honest to God, don’t know if I would have been able to make the kind of sacrifices Mr. Snowden knew he would be making.

    Whatever happens, he is always going to be a touchstone.

  17. I am not a blogger and very rarely respond to blogs and comments to blogs. However, I am a faithful reader of your blog and greatly appreciate your positions, cogent analyses, and most guest bloggers. However, I must admit to some concerns about the tidal wave of support for Snowden and calls for a pardon at least without learning all of the details first. E.g.: Why did he go to Russia and China first? Did he give them highly classified information that put our country in jeopardy such as giving Chinas hackers info that helps them attack computers in this country? Does virtually every major country have a similar monitoring system on other countries, including the US, so that singling out the US for outrage and embarrassment has seriously hurt foreign relations, when every country has a similar spy system, but thanks to Snowden, only the US is having to defend itself and (I would think) revamp and revise its spy network and protocol?

    In other words, it may eventually turn out that Snowden was a purely altruistic whistle blower, who should be praised and pardoned. But, until we know his motives, the degree to which his conduct severely harmed the interests of the US unnecessarily (i.e., in addition to exposing internal spying that should be condemned), whether he has provided classified information to our many enemies when he could have limited it to information necessary to help reform the system, etc. I think that heaping praise on him and calls for a pardon are way too premature. Ironically, any information that was purely helpful to those wishing to harm the US is likely to be sufficiently confidential that the government cannot reveal it without adding to the harm. So it is unlikely that we have anything close to the full story.

    Best wishes,


    P.S. I didnt just put this response on the blog because I do not want to engage in a war of words with the many commentators on your blog. And, they are likely to jump on my seeming opposition to Snowden, when I am only calling for not reacting prematurely. However, I respect you enough to let you know my concerns with calls for a pardon when so much remains to be known.

    Robert H. Aronson Betts, Patterson & Mines Professor of Law Emeritus University of Washington School of Law William H. Gates Hall Box 353020 Seattle, WA 98195-3020 Phone: 425-242-1577 Email:

  18. A remarkable piece by Rebecca Solnit. The excerpts hardly do it justice.

    A Letter to Edward Snowden

    Prometheus among the cannibals.

    Rebecca Solnit
    July 18, 2013


    What’s striking about your words on video, Edward Snowden, the ones I hear as your young, pale, thoughtful face speaks with clarity and incisiveness in response to Glenn Greenwald’s questions, is that you’re not talking much about what you hate, though it’s clear that you hate the secret network you were part of. You hate it because it poisons what you love. You told us, “I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions… [but] I will be satisfied if the federation of secret law, unequal pardon, and irresistible executive powers that rule the world that I love are revealed even for an instant.” You love our world, our country—not its government, clearly, but its old ideals and living idealists, its possibilities, its dreamers and its dreams (not the stale, stuffed American dream of individual affluence, but the other dreams of a better world for all of us, a world of principle).

    You told us where we now live and that you refuse to live there anymore:

    “I don’t want to live in a world where everything that I say, everything I do, everyone I talk to, every expression of creativity or love or friendship is recorded. And that’s not something I’m willing to support, it’s not something I’m willing to build, and it’s not something I’m willing to live under. America is a fundamentally good country. We have good people with good values who want to do the right thing. But the structures of power that exist are working to their own ends to extend their capability at the expense of the freedom of all publics.”

    Which is to say you acted from love, from all the things the new surveillance state imperils: privacy, democracy, accountability, decency, honor. The rest of us, what would we do for love?

    What is terrifying to the politicians at the top is that you may be our truest patriot at the moment. Which makes all of them, with their marble buildings and illustrious titles, their security details and all the pomp, the flags, the saluting soldiers, so many traitors. The government is the enemy of the people; the state is the enemy of the country. I love that country, too. I fear that state and this new information age as they spread and twine like a poison vine around everything and everyone. You held up a mirror and fools hate the mirror for it; they shoot the messenger, but the message has been delivered.

    “This country is worth dying for,” you said in explanation of your great risks. You were trained as a soldier, but a soldier’s courage with a thinker’s independence of mind is a dangerous thing; a hero is a dangerous thing. That’s why the US military has made the Guardian, the British newspaper that has done the key reporting on your leaks, off limits to our soldiers overseas. Whoever made that cynical censorship decision understands that those soldiers may be defending a set of interests at odds with this country and its Constitution, and they need to be kept in the dark about that. The dark from which you emerged.

    When the United States forced the airplane of Evo Morales, Bolivia’s democratically elected head of state, to land in Austria, after compliant France, Spain, Portugal and Italy denied him the right to travel through their airspace, all South America took it as an insult and a violation of Bolivia’s sovereignty and international law. The allied president of Argentina, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, tracked the incident in a series of tweets that demonstrated an openness, a principledness and a strong friendship between Morales, Ecuadoran president Rafael Correa and her. It was a little window onto a really foreign continent: one in which countries are sometimes headed by genuinely popular leaders who are genuinely transparent and governed by rule of law. It’s a reminder that things in our own blighted, corrupted, corporate-dominated country could be different.

    Edward Snowden, you rebelled because you were outraged; so many others are rebelling because their lives are impossible now. These days when we revolt, the new technologies become our friends as well as our enemies. If you imagine those technologies as the fire Prometheus stole from the gods, then it works both ways, for us and for them, to create and to destroy.

    I think of a man even younger than you, Edward Snowden, who unlike you acted without knowing what he did: 26-year-old Mohammed Bouazizi, whose December 2010 self-immolation to protest his humiliation and hopelessness triggered what became the still-blooming, still-burning Arab Spring. Sometimes one person changes the world. This should make most of us hopeful and some of them fearful, because what I am also saying is that we now live in a world of us and them, a binary world. It’s not the old world of capitalism versus communism, but of the big versus the little, of oligarchy versus democracy, of hierarchies versus swarms, of corporations versus public interest and civil society.

    There were rumblings that you had defected, or would defect, to China or Russia, but you had already defected when we became aware of your existence: you had defected from them to us, using the power you had gained deep within the bowels of their infernal machines to empower us. What will we do with what you’ve taught us? That’s up to us, but for anyone who thinks what you did was not threatening to those in power, just look at how furious, how upset, how naked our emperors now are.

    And you, Prometheus, you stole their fire, and you know it. You said, “Being called a traitor by Dick Cheney is the highest honor you can give an American, and the more panicked talk we hear from people like him, [Senator Dianne] Feinstein, and [Congressman Peter] King, the better off we all are. If they had taught a class on how to be the kind of citizen Dick Cheney worries about, I would have finished high school.”

    Someday you may be regarded as a Mandela of sorts for the information age, or perhaps a John Brown, someone who refused to fit in, to bow down, to make a system work that shouldn’t work, that should explode. And perhaps we’re watching it explode.

    The match is sacrificed to start the fire. So maybe, Edward Snowden, you’re a sacrifice. In the process, you’ve lit a bonfire out of their secrecy and spying, a call to action.

    I fear for you, but your gift gives us hope and your courage, an example. Our loyalty should be to our ideals, because they are a threat to the secret system you’ve exposed, because we have to choose between the two. Right now you embody that threat, just as you embody those ideals. For which I am grateful, for which everyone who is not embedded in that system should be grateful.



  19. @Robert Aronson: I think your thoughts are well taken, but the content and context (thus far) appears to be in favor of a man who has freed us from a certain power tyranny that is insidiously developing behind a veil of secrecy. The last time that happened we ended up with a rogue CIA, an assassinated president, and a morphed intelligence community that is now unmeasurable, and condones torture, drones and atrocity with the candor of an AstroTurf patriotism to condone the process…all behind closed doors.

    It is possible, perhaps, to even question whether Snowden is authentic? Most of the materials were too big to absolutely hide, and the scenario could actually be reverse from what you suspect. Maybe he is covert actions? HOW WOULD YOU KNOW>>>it’s ALL SECRET….!!!

    I question why a legal professor is not digging into the outsourcing of this entire National Security in the first place. As I noted above (comment) the lowdown on Booz Allen / Carlyle is startling at the least. If National Security is breached, isn’t the question of a corporate structure owned by international shares and situated, for all intent and purposes, out of Dubai…an interest to you?

    Thanks for your contribution to this questioning seeking stream: I believe your comment opens up some serious sides that go unmentioned in pure consensus alignments and popular sentiment.

  20. We, the People, will consider a pardon for President Obama and his Chief Liar Clapper– when and only when they admit their respective lies.

  21. “A district court judge ruled that President Obama can’t lawfully keep hidden a foreign aid order he tried to shield via a claim of executive privilege, characterizing the move as a “cavalier” dodge of the Freedom of Information Act.”

    “The government appears to adopt the cavalier attitude that the president should be permitted to convey orders throughout the executive branch without public oversight … to engage in what is in effect governance by ‘secret law,’ ”

    Read more:
    By Cheryl K. Chumley
    The Washington Times

    Maybe Woolsey should hang the judge too?

  22. Government has become a bizarroworld of good is bad and bad is good messaging. There is the current push by both parties to feed the rich and starve the poor. The wealthy are given tax havens, capital gains tax breaks, tax avoidance trusts and offshoring of US based corporate profits. On the other hand, congress cuts food stamps to poor children and ends unemployment benefit extensions in the dead of winter with historically high long-term unemployment and underemployment.

    Regarding Snowden, the message is reward the liars and punish the truth tellers. Banksters are being rewarded with huge bonuses just a couple years after bringing the word economy to the brink of calamity. HSBC was found to be laundering money for drug cartels, most big banks were part of liar loans, forged documentation, illegal auto-signing, foreclosing on those who were current, given billions$ in taxpayer dollars to help those facing foreclosure and simply pocketing the money. The list of crimes and misdeeds is endless, yet they are in the hip pockets of nearly every congressional ‘representative’. Clapper lies to congress, NSA officials lie about its all encompassing spying, US corporations lie to customers about their involvement with illegal NSA demands. Not one single bankster has been prosecuted during the Bush/Obama administration. That’s shocking when you consider about 2000 banksters were sent to jail during the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s.

    The truth tellers such as Gina Gray, Chelsea Manning, Aaron Swartz was mercilessly harrassed and fearing life in prison, Assange is unable to leave his asylum in an Ecuadorian embassy, Thomas Drake, William Binney and J. Kirk Wiebe are punished and harrassed for years and often cannot find employment.

    What’s most frightening is that so many people condone those bizarroworld policies.

  23. Our distinguished commenter above, Professor Robert H. Aronson, graduated from UVa and was an accomplished athlete and scholar. He excelled in soccer and lacrosse leading the Wahoos soccer team in scoring during the first of his three varsity seasons. Freshmen were ineligible then. Judging by his impressive CV he continued his interest in scholarly pursuits as well as athletics — not a typical career for a professor. Thanks for your perspective and for all the good memories of green grass fields in the late 60s. I never knew exactly what happened to you. Just felt certain it was good.

  24. Pardon?
    How about the Executive Branch of government dismiss the charges against Snowden. Then they will not have to pardon him.
    Keep it simple sailor.

  25. Yeah Professor. Think about it. You seek a pardon after you have been convicted. There are charges pending. Dismiss with prejudice. End of story. Obama does not personally have to pardon him. Tell his nimwit Attorney General to dismiss with prejudice. Professor: respond here.

  26. If Snowden is pardoned, it will not be until January 19th of 2017. He was just too embarrassing to this and prior administrations. And he is not going to stop leaking his eminence library of documents to come home and be spat upon. The best thing to do with Snowden is to ignore him. He has be come a man without a country by his own choice.

  27. JD-b says, “Not one single bankster has been prosecuted during the Bush/Obama administration. That’s shocking when you consider about 2000 banksters were sent to jail during the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s.”

    “Shocking” is a good word. I personally like “revolting”.


    Prof. Aronson,

    I cannot see where anyone could reasonably offer opprobrious comment for your advocating caution, especially couched in such equitable language. The proof is indeed always in the eating of the pudding. I say this while fully in personal agreement with Mark’s (mespo’s) comment of 8:28AM that Snowden has rendered a valuable public service. That, however, could be mitigated if Snowden’s motives were to be proven nefarious. I do think though that would go to the man proper and the relevancy of charges, but I don’t think that negates the value of said service (intentional or no).

  28. Gene H:

    “I do think though that would go to the man proper and the relevancy of charges, but I don’t think that negates the value of said service (intentional or no).”


    An unintentional public service shines just as brightly as the intended kind.

  29. I can see where Robert Aronson is coming from on not being to swift to call Edward Snowden a hero out of concern that Mr. Snowden might have leaked bona-fide secrets to the Chinese or the Russians that actually damaged or risked the security of the citizens of the United States but my best estimate of what I perceive from all I have read is that Edward Snowden would not sell out the safety of the American People it is counter to someone trying to do to report abuses against the American population generally by the US government rather than directly aiding an enemy.

    Edward Snowden is not an Aldrich Ames who performed espionage for money. I wonder if he even had the “files” with him when he was in Russia, having given to a trusted source. I certainly don’t know for sure.

    I agree with the others aforementioned that it is completely hypocritical to want to string up Edward Snowden when there have been numerous abuses of the constition, civil rigths, and many deaths caused by our own government. But can we expect such persons in the administration to do otherwise given their track record?

  30. Robert Aronson,
    General warrants… Why were the Founders unkind to them?
    And what is this, “thanks to Snowden only America has to defend itself…” About? Four initials; GCHQ. Not American.

  31. For me, in terms of personal satisfaction, the mission’s already accomplished,” he said. “I already won. As soon as the journalists were able to work, everything that I had been trying to do was validated. Because, remember, I didn’t want to change society. I wanted to give society a chance to determine if it should change itself.” -Edward Snowden

    “Edward Snowden, after months of NSA revelations, says his mission’s accomplished” by Barton Gellman


    People who accuse him of disloyalty, he said, mistake his purpose.

    “I am not trying to bring down the NSA, I am working to improve the NSA,” he said. “I am still working for the NSA right now. They are the only ones who don’t realize it.”

  32. There are lots of things Obama should do but most certainly won’t. But don’t blame him. He is a brilliant and saintly man that wants to do the right thing always. But, according to Ray McGovern’s latest article, the CIA might assassinate the Imperial President again – just like they did back in the days of Camelot – if our dear leader were to act against the CIA’s interest.

    Assuming that the Satanic Secret Illumanati that manages the CIA also is running the NSA, Obama’s hands are tied on pardoning Snowden.

    Maybe we can get Pat Robertson to call God and get him to intervene. If that fails, we could get The Gypsy Woman to give Obama a Mojo Bag and an amulet to protect against the CIA’s evil Black Cat Bone.

  33. ” So it is unlikely that we have anything close to the full story. ” (Robert Aronson)

    I can not argue that point nor the reasons you list in supporting it. The problem rests with the government’s credibility. They have cried “Wolf!” too often to be believed now. It is a petard of their own construction and the injury to themselves by the device they intended to use to injure others can not be denied. Blaming Snowden is denial of that reality.

  34. I stand with Mespo 727272 on this one. A ‘pardon’ is given to someone who did something wrong. Snowden, as far as I’m concerned, did nothing wrong except maybe go to work for a contractor at the NSA.

  35. I know this is off topic…. But I have a question about this matter that I’m posting about…

    There is this mother that is going through a divorce and decides to take her and the 4 children’s lives ranging from 3 to 11…. She sits in the car with the engine running for about 2 hours and for some reason she turns the engine off. She is admitted to a psych facility and then about 120 or 90 days later is charged with 4 life offenses…. She is the sentenced to 25 years in the psychiatric hospital….

    OS or Mike S can you or anyone shed light on how this could happen…

  36. Justice Integrity Project

    Have Spy Agencies Co-Opted Presidents and the Press?
    Posted: 23 Dec 2013 09:11 PM PST

    Fifty years ago yesterday, Dec. 22, former President Harry Truman warned the public against the Central Intelligence Agency’s excessive powers.

    Harry TrumanTruman, who led the way for the agency’s founding, wrote a Washington Post column entitled, “Limit CIA Role To Intelligence.”

    Truman, right, timed his column to be exactly one month after the assassination of President Kennedy, whose death has long been suspected in private by top-level Washington insiders as being linked to the agency and the foreign policy goals of the agency’s private sector patrons. (read more)[]

  37. Secrecy and its ramifications….
    Written by Andrew Kreig []
    Published on December 22, 2013

    Peter Janney

    Editor’s Note: Author Peter Janney wrote this guest column to provide his views regarding the two most recent columns in the Justice Integrity Project’s “JFK Murder Readers Guide.” Janney, sought to make three major points about the two columns, JFK Murder, The CIA, and 8 Things Every American Should Know Dec. 9 and JFK Murder Prompts Expert Reader Reactions Dec. 20, 2013. Janney, reared in a CIA family, is the author of Mary’s Mosaic. Its subtitle is, The CIA Conspiracy to Murder John F. Kennedy, Mary Pinchot Meyer and Their Vision for World Peace
    Guest Column: Author Peter Janney Amplifies JFK ‘Readers Guide’
    By Peter Janney

    [special excerpt]:
    So, in April 1967, the CIA created a 50-page memo. Known as “CIA Dispatch 1035-960,” the directive was sent to various CIA stations; it instructed agents to contact their media contacts and explain to them how to best respond to anyone who was criticizing the conclusions of the Warren Report. [The document is here in the original, and here in reformatted text of its summary.] A set of “talking points” was also included that raised questions about the motives and competence of anyone who called into question the lone gun-man theory.

    With this memo and the CIA’s influence in the media, the concept of “conspiracy theorist” was engendered and infused into our political lexicon and became what it is today: a term to smear, denounce, ridicule, and defame anyone who dares to speak about any crime committed by the state, military or intelligence services. People who want to pretend that conspiracies don’t exist, when in fact they are among the most common modus operandi of significant historical change throughout the world and in our country become furious when their naive illusion is challenged.

  38. For anyone interested in reading those (2 = here & here) documents mentioned in the text above, the link to the full Peter Janney article is here (with full live links included in the text) :

  39. Regarding Robert Aronson’s comments, an observation by American scientist/philosopher/logician Charles Sanders Peirce would seem to apply:

    “Pronouncing a thing inexplicable does not explain it.”

    And regarding Mr Aronson’s unwillingness to come to a conclusion regarding the salutary consequences of Edward Snowden’s many — and continuing — documentary revelations, consider:

    The Suspension of Judgment Principle

    If no position comes close to being successfully defended, or if two or more positions seem to be defended with equal strength, one should, in most cases, suspend judgement about the issue. If practical considerations seem to require an immediate decision, one should weigh the relative risks of gain or loss connected with the consequences of suspending judgement and decide the issue on those grounds.

    — T. Edward Damer, Attacking Faulty Reasoning

    Now in the present instance, and quite obviously, Edward Snowden’s revelations seem admirably defended with copious documentary evidence and analysis by many diverse and respected journalistic institutions from several countries, while the U. S. government’s case against Edward Snowden remains woefully undefended — if one can even consider threats, bluster, lies, and pathetic claims to absolute secrecy as a “defense.” So given the fact that one side — Edward Snowden’s — has been quite successfully defended while the U.S. government’s side remains laughably inept, ad hoc, and continuously changing, a decision to suspend judgment in this matter simply implies an unwillingness to face the facts.

    The government of the United States has gotten caught — yet again — with its collective pants down (so to speak) with documentary evidence supplied by Edward Snowden clearly establishing the incompetence, malfeasance, mendacity, and utter lack of credibility, not just of the U.S. government, but many other “allied” governments, as well. So on the basis of what we actually do know thanks to Edward Snowden, it seems altogether proper to call him not just an American patriot , but a hero — of global stature.

    Additionally, speculating about what Edward Snowden might have given other governments or private for-profit interests — with no evidence whatsoever to support such suppositions — amounts to an argument from ignorance, a notorious fallacy. What we do not know does not ad one iota of fact or evidence to any discussion. And assuming that some evidence might exist to tarnish Edward Snowden’s reputation does not mean that any such evidence exists, only that a person on the losing end of an argument wishes that some contradictory evidence might come to light someday if the discussion only goes on long enough. But in fact, the longer this discussion goes on and as further documentary revelations come to light — promised by journalist Glenn Greenwald and others in possession of the evidence — the better Edward Snowden looks and the worse the U.S. and several “allied” governments look.

    So again, I see no reason to suspend judgement about Edward Snowden’s courage, patriotism, and ultimate salutary impact on freedom and democracy. Those, like Robert Aronson, who wish to suspend judgement may of course do so, but so far they have advanced no factual evidence or logical argument supporting their position. What they seem to hope for, I can only surmise, but they do seem uncomfortable with the truth and evidence revealed by Edward Snowden to date. Why?

  40. MM,

    Perhaps they reserve judgement simply because they are not persuaded about certain questions by the evidence as it exists currently. Uncomfortable with conclusions and uncomfortable with the quality or quantity of evidence are not the same thing.

  41. Speaking of pardons….or rather lack of same….Marine Corps vet Eric Pizer ended his second combat tour in Iraq in 2004. A couple of days after his return, he went to the assistance of a friend involved in a fight. Pizer tried to break it up, and in the process punched the assailant. He was charged with battery. He pleaded no contest, served 2 years of probation and paid over $7000 in medical bills after punching the man in the face. Pizer went on to college, completing an Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice. He is not allowed to carry a firearm because of the conviction.

    He wants to be a police officer, but with that conviction for “assault” hanging over his head, he is prohibited from becoming a police officer. A pardon from the Governor can restore his rights, allowing him to pursue his chosen career. Unfortunately, his state Governor is Scott Walker. Yep, THAT Scott Walker, who says he will never issue a pardon to anyone for any reason. Walker feels that decorated Marine combat vet Pizer should just get over it and go into another line of work. Never mind that Pizer put his life on the line. Walker The Fearful never served, and hides behind an impressive security detail.

    One other thing. One of his associates is getting out of prison early. Walker’s buddy Kevin Kavanaugh stole $51,000 from a veterans fund. Scott Walker put Kevin Kavanaugh in charge of the veteran’s fund when Walker was Milwaukee County Executive, but Kavanaugh was caught in the “John Doe probe.” The early release was ordered by the state Department of Corrections, which is headed by a…wait for it…Walker appointee.

    Perhaps the President will see fit to override Walker’s intransigence, but I am not holding my breath.

  42. @Michael Murry: Merry Christmas to you. Your statements are more than comment; they are a learning process and it demonstrates that authentic public education can be brought out under honest exchanges and carefully reasoned open dialogue. This in itself demonstrates why the state can not operate in secret, by secrets and for the (sake of) secrets.. in a country that still pretends to be of the people, for the people and by the people!
    Happy New Year ! May Open Freedom reign!

  43. The fallacious argument from Ignorance in an Orwellian State:
    The Quote
    “ … there are known knowns; there are things we know that we know.
    There are known unknowns; that is to say, there are things that we now know we don’t know.
    But there are also unknown unknowns – there are things we do not know we don’t know. ”

    —United States Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld

    The above statement was made by Rumsfeld on February 12, 2002 at a press briefing where he addressed the absence of evidence linking the government of Iraq with the supply of weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups. FROM A direct transcript of a news briefing.

    One might venture to say that this is an argument from stupidity since ignorance is excusable!

  44. Full pardon and exoneration.

    It must be immediately followed by the seating of grand juries to discuss matters of those who created it, as the NSA is adjacent to other vile acts of the time, including torture and the treaties it abrogated.

    Those who maintained it since can save themselves through telling what they know of it. But we’ll have to hear it first.

    For the first time, well, ever, one predicts that day is actually coming. Something in the air… call it a hope in hunch formation.

  45. “Glenn Greenwald ‏@ggreenwald 2h

    Law professor (and pre-2009 MSNBC regular) Jonathan Turley in the LA Times argues for a pardon for Snowden …”

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