Kerry To Snowden: “Man Up and Come Back to the United States.”

220px-John_Kerry_official_Secretary_of_State_portrait220px-Landsdowne_HeraklesWe previously discussed how terribly confused Hillary Clinton appeared in discussing National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden. She just could not understand why he would not have trusted the government to deal with any problems or why he would not come back to the United States. Now, Secretary of State John Kerry is offering his own brand of macho advice to the kid: “man up and come back to the United States.” Sure leaders have called for him to be tried as a traitor and either incarcerated for life or executed. Sure, he is not guaranteed to see all of the evidence used against him or even be guaranteed a federal trial as opposed to a military tribunal. However, Kerry appears ready to give him an “attaboy” on his way to solitary confinement under Special Administrative Measures (SAMs) that cut off virtually any contact with the outside world.

As we discussed with Clinton, the ruling class in Washington finds Snowden perfectly incomprehensible. Every aspect of our political system has long been tied down and controlled by the two parties. For such leaders, someone like Snowden is nothing short of an alien visitation — someone who throws away his career and possible freedom for what he claims to be principle. To make matters worse, Snowden is viewed as a whistleblower, if not a hero, by many in the United States and around the world. (However, polls in the U.S. are conflicting. A majority are glad that the disclosures were made but other polls show that a majority believes Snowden should stand trial. Making things even more precarious for people like Clinton is that younger people have particularly rallied to the side of Snowden as a whistleblower). While President Obama implausibly claimed that he would have reviewed these abusive programs without Snowden’s disclosures, Snowden was clearly the cause of multiple investigations and reforms of these programs.

Snowden committed the ultimate crime in Washington: he embarrassed leadership in both parties. He broke the rules and went outside of a carefully controlled duopoly system of control. He embarrassed many, including Clinton, who sat by quietly as the national security system invaded the privacy of every American citizen. Indeed, for people in the establishment who have spent their lives reinforcing that system, someone like Snowden is more than an anomaly. He is someone who not only broke the rules but threw away his career to make these disclosures. For people like Clinton and Kerry, he could just as well be a man from Mars.

Kerry said that Snowden really needs to “stand up in the United States and make his case to the American people.” Indeed, Kerry declared that “A patriot would not run away. … He can come home but he’s a fugitive from justice.” Like Clinton, Kerry cannot imagine why Snowden would not trust the system: “If he cares so much about America and he believes in America, he should trust the American system of justice.”

As someone who has held top clearances since the Reagan administration, I do not support the release of classified information. However, as someone who has litigated national security cases from terrorism to espionage cases, there is every reason for Snowden to be leery of our system as it currently stands in the post 9-11 world. I have great faith and love for our legal system, but national security law has become increasingly draconian and outcome determinative due to various changes in the last decade. This Administration has continued the use of secret legal opinions and secret evidence in cases. The agencies continue to classify information to prevent the public or defendants from reviewing potentially embarrassing or conflicting material. President Obama has refused to close tribunal proceedings and maintains the same claim of his inherent authority to decide whether people go to real courts or the widely ridiculed tribunal proceedings. Even if in the federal system, the government would hit Snowden with SAMs to cut off any contact and impose limitations on even his cleared counsel in speaking with him. At trial, federal judges are increasingly barring arguments from defendants as “immaterial” even when those arguments are the real reason for their actions.

Thus, the Justice Department would likely move to exclude arguments that disclosure was necessary because Snowden had no real alternative for reform. He might be even prevented from arguing that he was seeking to protect citizens from the systemic and comprehensive denial of privacy. Even if some of that motivational argument were allowed, it would likely trigger an instruction that that is no defense to the charges. Sentencing enhancements routinely used by the Justice Department would guarantee a life sentence if convicted for Snowden.

228px-Picture_of_Edward_SnowdenAs for utilizing the system to make these disclosures before he fled, Snowden had little reason to trust the congressional oversight committees or the agencies themselves. Just for the record, as many of you know, I represented the prior whistleblower who first revealed this program years before Snowden. He tried to use the system. Happily he was not charged and is doing well. However, as I have testified in Congress, the whistleblower system referred to by Clinton is a colossal joke. First, there are exceptions under the whistleblower laws for national security information. Second, the House and Senate oversight committees are viewed as the place that whistleblowers go to get arrested. There is a revolving door of staff back and forth to the intelligence agencies and people like Dianne Feinstein have denounced Snowden as a traitor. While one can still criticize Snowden for breaking classification laws, the suggestion that he could have used the whistleblower system is hardly self-evident if you are familiar with the laws or the history of such cases.

Whatever Snowden decides, it is clear that if he returns he will be quickly put in isolation and would be virtually certain of conviction with a life sentence. That is assuming that some leaders do not get their way in calling for a death penalty case. That is certain a lot to “man up” to.

292 thoughts on “Kerry To Snowden: “Man Up and Come Back to the United States.”

  1. The Law is utilized to keep the masses civil;
    while the power, money & might make right utilizes such

    to abuse “civil” masses.

    I KNOW it for a FACT – I’m living proof that tells the tale!

  2. feynman
    Are they not men and women of integrity? Do they not feel this is a nation of laws – a country that must honor its Constitution?
    = = =
    That is the same question I’ve been asking my Democratic House Rep.
    He was FOR impeachment (when it was a R in the Oval Office) before a (D) sat in the Oval Office doing worse than the (R) he wanted to impeach did.

    Why would anyone think anyone who serves US in DC has integrity nowadays?

  3. Statesman would have impeached and convicted already. Ideologues will destroy the country.

    • Right. far better to go with the flow. Keep your options open. Apply situational ethics and avoid those nasty confrontations that make your day so tedious; huh John?

      Don’t do what is right; do what is expedient.

      Wait; I think I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.

  4. Paul;

    Thou bias is self evident.

    Per —

    GWB not being impeached for many more things than just false WMD’s;
    and (G-d forbid), a Cheney POTUS.

    Haliburton ruling our country

    or Bain!

    Either way – all of U.S. face bane!

  5. Impeaching is a game of “deal me in – or else”;
    and it doesn’t work when there’s more dirt on you than the target.

    We live in a world were money, power and might makes right;
    which allows them ALL to get away with doing many wrongs.

    • If so many of you believe there are real grounds to impeach Barack Obama; all I can say and think is: “Its sad that he has broken so many laws and rules and yet has made so little progress against the Conservatives. And then they don’t bother to remove the hated first black president? Hmm. Almost as though both sides are just playing a role in a huge façade designed to obscure the real power structure.

      Nah! Crazy Conspiracy Theorists. Ha!

      On Sun, Jun 1, 2014 at 11:19 PM, JONATHAN TURLEY wrote:

      > LaserDLiquidator commented: “Impeaching is a game of “deal me in – or > else”; and it doesn’t work when there’s more dirt on you than the target. > We live in a world were money, power and might makes right; which allows > them ALL to get away with doing many wrongs.” >

      • There are clearly grounds for impeachment of Obama. He safety net right now is the Senate, where the Democrats are in control. I think the Republicans learned from impeaching Clinton, after the Democrats voted as a bloc and then went out and had their pictures taken with him afterword. The second safety net is Joe Biden. I don’t think the Republican feel comfortable loosing him on the world as Commander-in-Chief.

  6. Max 1

    I wonder why Republicans don’t impeach Obama. They can do it with ease and it would certainly stain his presidency. Staining his presidency has been their goal since 2009. Why don’t they? Are they not men and women of integrity? Do they not feel this is a nation of laws – a country that must honor its Constitution?

    Why don’t they impeach him, Max?

  7. John,
    Obama and all other Presidents are above the Law…
    … Why, just look at the way our Elected Representatives kowtow to his delusional demands.

    Impeachment is off the table… thanks to Democrats.
    And the House Bar is open for business… Thanks to Republicans.

  8. NEWFLASH – Obama gives Taliban its General Staff – Obama violates law requiring 30-day disclosure to Congress. Obama sends Susan Rice (LOL), tried and convicted in the court of public opinion, to spin his abetting of the enemy.

    Geez, Snowden doesn’t look so bad anymore, huh?

    Obama can give amnesty to the Taliban General Staff but he can’t give amnesty to the American hero, Snowden?

    That dudn’t make any sense!

    The reason the Founders denied presidential eligibility to the son of a foreign citizen* was to assure against foreign allegiances.

    *
    Vattel’s Law of Nations – § 212: “Natural-born citizens are those born in the country of parents who are citizens – it is necessary that they be born of a father who is a citizen.”

    During 1775, Charles Dumas, an ardent republican [as opposed to a monarchist] living in Europe sent three copies of Vattel’s Law of Nations to Benjamin Franklin. Here is a portion of Franklin’s letter of Dec. 9, 1775 thanking Dumas for the books:

    “… I am much obliged by the kind present you have made us of your edition of Vattel. It came to us in good season, when the circumstances of a rising state make it necessary frequently to consult the law of nations. Accordingly that copy, which I kept, (after depositing one in our own public library here, and sending the other to the College of Massachusetts Bay, as you directed,) has been continually in the hands of the members of our Congress, now sitting, who are much pleased with your notes and preface, and have entertained a high and just esteem for their author…” (2nd para) [boldface added]

    **** Proposed First Article of Impeachment: The person occupying the office of the president fraudulently applied for candidacy with full knowledge that his father was a foreign citizen causing the applicant to be ineligible.

  9. Say Cheese!!!
    N.S.A. Collecting Millions of Faces From Web Images
    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/01/us/nsa-collecting-millions-of-faces-from-web-images.html

    The spy agency’s reliance on facial recognition technology has grown significantly over the last four years as the agency has turned to new software to exploit the flood of images included in emails, text messages, social media, videoconferences and other communications, the N.S.A. documents reveal. Agency officials believe that technological advances could revolutionize the way that the N.S.A. finds intelligence targets around the world, the documents show. The agency’s ambitions for this highly sensitive ability and the scale of its effort have not previously been disclosed.

    • Max-1 – they should have no problem identifying Obama then. 🙂 I think, giving it the broadest interpretation possible, that this is about a meta as metadata gets. I don’t agree with doing this, but I can see how their thinking got them to this point.
      I no longer post pictures to FB because of things like this. Although, I am sure that I have been placed on the “first against the wall” list, I would like to make it a little harder for them.

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