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Daniel Ellsberg: Snowden Would Not Get a Fair Trial – and Kerry Is Wrong 519

Posted by timothy
from the where-liddy-was-wrong dept.
Daniel Ellsberg, no slouch himself in bringing to public awareness documents that reveal uncomfortable facts about government operations, says that "Edward Snowden is the greatest patriot whistleblower of our time." Ellsberg says, in an editorial at The Guardian pointed out by reader ABEND (15913), that Snowden cannot receive a fair trial without reform of the Espionage Act. According to Ellsberg, "Snowden would come back home to a jail cell – and not just an ordinary cell-block but isolation in solitary confinement, not just for months like Chelsea Manning but for the rest of his sentence, and probably the rest of his life. His legal adviser, Ben Wizner, told me that he estimates Snowden's chance of being allowed out on bail as zero. (I was out on bond, speaking against the Vietnam war, the whole 23 months I was under indictment). More importantly, the current state of whistleblowing prosecutions under the Espionage Act makes a truly fair trial wholly unavailable to an American who has exposed classified wrongdoing. Legal scholars have strongly argued that the US supreme court – which has never yet addressed the constitutionality of applying the Espionage Act to leaks to the American public – should find the use of it overbroad and unconstitutional in the absence of a public interest defense. The Espionage Act, as applied to whistleblowers, violates the First Amendment, is what they're saying. As I know from my own case, even Snowden's own testimony on the stand would be gagged by government objections and the (arguably unconstitutional) nature of his charges. That was my own experience in court, as the first American to be prosecuted under the Espionage Act – or any other statute – for giving information to the American people." Ellsberg rejects the distinction made by John Kerry in praising Ellsberg's own whistleblowing as patriotic, but Snowden's as cowardly and traitorous.
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Daniel Ellsberg: Snowden Would Not Get a Fair Trial – and Kerry Is Wrong

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  • by oldhack (1037484) on Sunday June 01, 2014 @07:13PM (#47143587)
    All traitors.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 01, 2014 @07:23PM (#47143631)

    Traitors? They're terrorists. They use terror, violence & intimidation as political weapons.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 01, 2014 @07:24PM (#47143639)

    First, Snowden took more than just the documents that have been published by the Guardian, this was confirmed by the Guardian in the first days of the leaks. Snowden asked them "to use their judgement and not publish anything 'seriously damaging'", which means there is more than just what the public has been made aware of.

    Which is not relevant, you dont even know what the unpublished documents are or whether they have any bearing on anything whatsoever.

    Second, it is almost certain that ALL of that information was given over to the governments of the countries he traveled to.
    So the Espionage Act CAN be applied quite easily to Snowden for any classified information given to foreign governments that was not also part of the information leaked to the media.

    And thankfully "almost certain" is a meaningless term that you use because you want it to be true to support your point of view but you have no proof, you then use this baseless assertion to attempt to justify application of the Espionage Act.

  • by meerling (1487879) on Sunday June 01, 2014 @07:34PM (#47143691)
    He was the very first American to be prosecuted with it. That means the prosecutor was going to take it a lot more carefully and not try to piss off the public to the point where they would totally rebel against the unreasonable and probably unconstitutional aspects of it.
  • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Sunday June 01, 2014 @07:35PM (#47143697)

    I hate to use FTFY...

    So I won't.

    But the administration (who I voted for and otherwise support) and the NSA are full of people who were conducing what should be illegal and probably are unconstitutional US spying operations IN THE UNITED STATES.

    The sad thing is- Snowden's actions will probably hurt us abroad and not do a thing to stop the fascist and creepy internal spying on U.S. citizens.

  • RE: Traitor (Score:5, Insightful)

    by scotts13 (1371443) on Sunday June 01, 2014 @07:39PM (#47143733)

    If Mr. Snowden is a traitor, we need to fix the laws until he ISN'T a traitor. He performed a valuable service to the citizens of this republic, and to the citizens of many other nations around the world.

  • by Concerned Onlooker (473481) on Sunday June 01, 2014 @07:41PM (#47143751) Homepage Journal

    "There are processes in place to deal with law violations committed under the veil of state secrecy. Snowden did not lift a finger for even a moment to follow those processes, electing instead to break the law himself and go straight to the public."

    If that was even true he would have had good reason to do that. Two of his predecessors had their lives completely ruined after they tried to follow process.

    One of my favorite lines (gleaned from a post here as a matter of fact) is, do you really expect to win a rigged game by playing by the rules?

  • by NicBenjamin (2124018) on Sunday June 01, 2014 @07:58PM (#47143849)

    It's not just the spy bureaucracy. According to polls most of the American people do not approve of his actions. And this is a democracy, so that matters.

    Snowden's core problem is that the American people approve of a good half of the programs Greenwald has outed. Spying on people like Angie Merkel is the entire reason we instructed our Congress to spend $30-$40 per person on an NSA. Period. End of story. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200. Same goes for most of the other NSA revelations (spying on Brazil's government, helping the Aussies spy on Indonesia, etc.). Pretty much the only thing he's revealed that most Americans actually care about was the mass surveillance on US Citizens, and a lot of that was oversold [zdnet.com].

    It doesn't help that he ended up in Russia. With the Crimea mess he just looks like Putin's puppet. To an extent that can be blamed on the "spy bureaucracy," but if Snowden knew he was gonna piss of the State Department, and he knew that he'd only be allowed to travel if State didn't revoke his documents, then he probably should not have gone through Moscow. Moreover I suspect our spy bureaucracy is actually good enough to get the timing right on that. There wasn't that much time between boarding a plane in HK and switching flights. I suspect the Chinese didn't want him, so they let him through with revoked documents, and then Putin him decided to keep him in a glass box.

    To an extent I sympathize with him, but what's that old saying about the Game of Thrones? You win or you die? Snowden could have chosen to leak his documents anonymously through a Congressman. Amash would have loved to blame Obama for evil. Wyden is always good on these issues. And he probably could have done so anonymously, because the NSA can't piss off Congress or they all get fired, and Congress doesn't like it when the Executive branch hinders them in their core duty of making life difficult of said Executive branch. But he went through the media, which meant nobody in power in the US had any particular reason to protect him, so now he's Putin's bitch. It would be nice if this was Star Trek and shit like this didn't happen, but it ain't.

  • by Bing Tsher E (943915) on Sunday June 01, 2014 @08:02PM (#47143863) Journal

    Snowden would be prosecuted & sentenced. We would all be pissed off. Some cities would even have public protests. Then Snowden would get locked in a cell. Things would gradually cool down. Uh, whatever happened to ol' Ed?

    *crickets*

  • by neonsignal (890658) on Sunday June 01, 2014 @08:08PM (#47143899)

    patriot: A person who vigorously supports their country and is prepared to defend it against enemies or detractors.

    Snowden has been consistent in explaining his motivation as exposing the misuse of government power against American citizens. Whether or not you agree with his method of doing so, it is hard to see that it was unpatriotic (unless your particular definition of patriotism is an unquestioning allegiance to his employer).

    Anyway, you have to understand that from the point of view of the rest of the world, we don't really care whether or not Snowden is a patriot. What we care about is that NSA have been working to undermine systems of trust, whether those are the encryption of communications, or even the relationships between friendly countries. And much of this done without significant goverrnment oversight, let alone public discussion. You are naive if you think that the trial of a whistleblower is more important than these subversive actions of the NSA.

  • by mendax (114116) on Sunday June 01, 2014 @08:34PM (#47143995)

    It doesn't help that he ended up in Russia. With the Crimea mess he just looks like Putin's puppet. To an extent that can be blamed on the "spy bureaucracy," but if Snowden knew he was gonna piss of the State Department, and he knew that he'd only be allowed to travel if State didn't revoke his documents, then he probably should not have gone through Moscow.

    If I were Edward Snowden I would not want to route a series of flights to South American, where he was originally intending to go, that would take me through airports in American-friendly countries. Going to Russia on an Aeroflot flight to Moscow and then to Cuba and then from there to somewhere in South American would have been the smartest thing to do. I doubt the US would be willing to piss off the Russians by sending out the F-15s to intercept a Russian-flagged airliner. And as Snowden has pointed out, once in Russia he was unable to go any farther except back to the US because the State Department had revoked his passport. However, it is rather fortuitous that Snowden is in Russian. That is probably the best place for him to be, especially now because Putin is not going to be doing any favors for the American government.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 01, 2014 @08:39PM (#47144021)

    So your basic point is that the US is deepest darkest totalitarian fascist Gulag state in the history of people. We don't actually have laws or courts.

    Thanks for clearing that up. No, really, thanks.

    The existence of courts when some of those courts are held in secret and evidence is
    withheld from the public is not comforting to those of us who are paying attention.

    I have bad news for you. You are out of your depth trying such "logic" on Slashdot.
    There are many many people here who are your intellectual betters and the margin
    by which they are better is very wide indeed.

    If all you can do is make remarks one would expect from a young child
    ( "we actually don't have courts ..." ) you may as well quit now, because you have
    already removed any doubt about whether you are a fool with such remarks.
    So unless you are being paid to post by your superiors at Ft. Meade, you should
    read instead of posting.

    By the way, any chance you used to use the name "ColdFjord" to post here ? Because you
    sound just like that misguided neofascist piece of shit.

  • by Uberbah (647458) on Sunday June 01, 2014 @08:40PM (#47144029)

    I'd wave it and make those who repeat stupid bullshit reflexively mule-kick themselves in the balls. Treason is the only crime spelled out in the Constitution, and for good reason - so fuckhead monarchists like the AC here can't sling it against anyone they don't like.

    Speaking of fuckheads, what about the lawbreaking revealed by Snowden? You guys out yourselves as pathetic hacks when you aren't demanding the impeachment and incarceration of top level officials, from Clapper to Alexander to the POTUS himself, at the same time that you're demanding Snowden's head.

  • by Microsift (223381) on Sunday June 01, 2014 @08:47PM (#47144069)

    Here's where Snowden crossed the line from whistle blower to traitor. When he allegedly revealed that we had tapped German Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone. This was a legitimate piece of spycraft that he revealed to our enemies and allies. Now you may say, should we be spying on Germany? Well, you'd be naive if you believed the German's weren't spying on us in some fashion.

    I'm not convinced the NSA is collecting more information about me than Google is, or whoever puts the ads for stuff I look at in Amazon on other web pages.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 01, 2014 @08:52PM (#47144103)

    Chelsea Manning is a perfect example. Reveal war crimes and end up in a little box, forgotten.

  • by Kazoo the Clown (644526) on Sunday June 01, 2014 @08:57PM (#47144123)
    Traitor or not, he Pwned their ass. The NSA look like complete idiots, and continue to do so, and Snowden has shown them up at every turn. Remind me what we are paying billions of dollars for again? Whether or not you can lock up Snowden, the NSA needs its plug pulled for utter incompetence.
  • by mrxak (727974) on Sunday June 01, 2014 @08:57PM (#47144125)

    Let's face it though. He is guilty. He admits what he's done. We can argue about what the law should be, but not what the law is. It's illegal to take classified documents like Snowden did, and start giving them away to everybody like Snowden did. His reasons for doing what he did are irrelevant as it pertains to his legal liability. The fact that he or even the public sees himself as a whistle blower over illegal actions by the government are irrelevant as they pertain to his legal liability.

    Of course, we do have jury nullification in the common law system. A jury could very well say, okay, well he did the crime, the evidence is overwhelming, but we're not going to say he's guilty because we don't agree with the law. That's quite possible. Sure, the prosecutor and judge will try to tell the jury that's not allowed, but it is, and it can happen. The jury system exists specifically so the people can check the government's power.

    This is all a separate matter from trial fairness, of course. If I was Snowden, I might not be so inclined to trust a US federal court with my fate. The judge might disallow evidence or testimony that would give Snowden and his lawyers a chance to argue however subtlety for jury nullification. The judge might not sustain valid objections from the defense. The judge could give a horribly unfair instruction. All kinds of things could happen. Considering the overwhelming political pressures that are sure to be placed on any kind of trial, Snowden might very well find himself screwed. He might also think it was all worth it anyway.

    Then of course we have the appeals system and of course the presidential pardon. Even if Snowden doesn't get a jury to nullify, that's hardly the end of it. He might get his case to the Supreme Court and have a fairer chance there. He might also have a groundswell of popular support that results in a pardon or at least a commutation of his sentence.

    Personally, I would like to see Snowden prosecuted for the crimes he's accused of and given a trial by his peers. I would very much like to see him get a fair trial, with all the evidence and arguments heard. The outcome of such a trial would be of great interest to me, as well as whatever happens afterwards. We would all learn something from it. It might suck for Snowden, but he thinks he's doing all of this to teach the American people about their government. The way his trial is conducted would certainly teach us all about our government.

  • by Uberbah (647458) on Sunday June 01, 2014 @09:14PM (#47144177)

    You authoritarian monarchist hacks out yourselves by spending soooo much time talking about how Snowden deserves to go to jail, but say nothing about the lawbreaking and lawbreakers revealed by Snowden. Not one word on Clapper going to jail for perjury, not one word for imprisoning Alexander for FISA violations, not one word on impeaching the POTUS for overseeing it all.

    We can argue about what the law should be, but not what the law is.

    5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine for each violation of FISA laws. But this was never about the law, for you.

  • by mrxak (727974) on Sunday June 01, 2014 @09:16PM (#47144189)

    2) It wasn't an execution, it was an armed conflict on a battlefield. Americans were shot at from and inside the house. There was every reason to believe that Osama would have a suicide vest or otherwise resist violently to capture. Osama made no attempt to surrender and was therefore a combatant. Of course they shot him on sight. If they'd found him face down naked and spread eagle on the floor screaming "I surrender" they would have taken him alive.

    3) As you say, it was a military incursion into a neutral country. There was also the fact that the compound was close to a lot of Pakistani military units. Having the Commander-in-Chief in the room to give immediate orders or call up foreign leaders in the event something went wrong with the raid makes a lot of sense. There wasn't any popcorn.

  • by Uberbah (647458) on Sunday June 01, 2014 @09:22PM (#47144209)

    A rendition is when you arrest somebody in a second country and immediately turn them over to a third. It generally looks a lot like a kidnapping, but with legal paperwork done in the second country, because all arrests are basically legal kidnappings.

    Probable cause, warrants, grand jury hearings, trial, lawyers, right to appeals

    vs

    No probable cause, illegal/secret evidence, no warrant, flown to a gulag or third world dictatorship, torture, no right to a lawyer much less an appeal, military kangaroo court under unlawful command influence [nbcnews.com], and then tortured with force-feeding when you start a hunger protest at your continued incarceration five years after your incacerators have cleared you for release.

    Oh yeah, they're totally the same thing!

  • by DexterIsADog (2954149) on Sunday June 01, 2014 @09:23PM (#47144215)

    Now you may say, should we be spying on Germany? Well, you'd be naive if you believed the German's weren't spying on us in some fashion

    Is that really all you have? That we should do it to them, because (you believe) they're doing it to us? That leads you directly to, "well we should be torturing their soldiers for information, because after all, you'd be naïve to think they don't torture ours".

  • by mrxak (727974) on Sunday June 01, 2014 @09:25PM (#47144217)

    I would like the lawbreakers in government to get fair trials too, by the way.

  • by Uberbah (647458) on Sunday June 01, 2014 @09:34PM (#47144237)

    It's not just the spy bureaucracy. According to polls most of the American people do not approve of his actions.

    Which is why calls were 100 to 1 against telecom immunity in 2008, from across the ideological spectrum. Because if there's one thing a majority of Americans want, it's corrupt unaccountable Big Brother spying on the entire planet. And that's before getting to the naked hackery of NBC's polling. You run a poll asking 'do you support Snowden taking classified documents to Putin's Russia?!?!?' and are surprised at the results? How about 'do you support whisteblowers when they reveal top officials breaking the law hundreds of times a second every day of the week'?

    Spying on people like Angie Merkel is the entire reason we instructed our Congress to spend $30-$40 per person on an NSA. Period. End of story. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200.

    Is this perfromance art, or did you bring enough hallucenegic drugs for everybody? Cuz you're on some mighty powerful acid if you're seriously suggesting we need to spend hundreds of billions to tap the personal communications of our closest allies.

    It doesn't help that he ended up in Russia.

    It doesn't work to blame Snowden for ending up in Putin's Russia when it was Clinton's State Department who canceled his passport on his way to South America. And for having the president of Ecuador's plane forced down because he might have been carrying Snowden on board.

  • by mrxak (727974) on Sunday June 01, 2014 @09:37PM (#47144243)

    Well first you need a grand jury to indict them before they go on trial. I'm sure there's a lot of evidence to go over before that happens. Justice rushed is not justice.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 01, 2014 @09:42PM (#47144263)

    Another issue is that it was said that he revealed names of other operatives.

    Do you know what happens to intelligence operatives in another country (potentially hostile) and their cover gets blown, especially if they are in an intelligence department?

    They disappear. Their families disappear. Their friends may vanish. They are then either held in hellholes until there is a prisoner exchange, or are subject to torture techniques that make the Spanish Inquisition look like amateur night (hint: we have drugs and electricity now, and the ability to revive someone if their heart stops from the stress.) They are tortured for both info, as well as tortured for just the pleasure of it (foreign agents tend to be the lowest of the low of any society.)

    So, Snowden's reveals have killed people. Who knows how many, but he has caused quite a number of deaths of Americans, Brits, people in countries friendly to the US... and even worse, their families, and possibly friends. Anyone who has had any contact with those people that Snowden revealed will likely be suspected as future spies.

    There are also counter-intelligence issues. China and Russia as just as brutal and invasive as the NSA. Except they will use that info swiftly and brutally.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 01, 2014 @09:45PM (#47144271)

    Why did it cross the line?

    We're told that we need to spend hundreds of billions of dollars, and suspend aspects of our Constitutional law, in order to stop terrorism. Then we find out that some this stuff we bought and paid for is being used to tap the Chancellor's cellphone one of the most prosperous, stable, and democratic allies in the world. How is that not relevant?

    It goes directly to the motive and function of our surveillance network. We're told the NSA needs to tap domestic phone lines to catch foreign terrorists. Do they mean foreign terrorists like Chancellor Merkel?

    Heck, supposedly Obama said that he didn't know about it. If we take his word at face value, is it not relevant that the intelligence regime has grown so out of proportion that it's doing things that even the president would abhor?

    And we should take these things at face value. Otherwise we're liable to fall prey to our romantic Cold War notions about the honor and peril involved in international espionage.

    Let's be clear: the bulk of the current intelligence regime is not a successor to the heroes of WWII and Cold War intelligence. The current regime is what you get when you ask Google and Facebook how to go about fighting terrorism.

    Step 1: Spy on everybody
    Step 2: ????
    Step 3: Profit

    The thing is, mass surveillance works for Google and Facebook because they profit off of each individual, and off of each banal web page we visit. The equation wrt to terrorism is completely different. There's no logic--only idiotic presumptions--that spying on everybody will allow us to thwart the random and exceedingly rare actions of a small cadre of loosely networked individuals around the globe.

  • by Uberbah (647458) on Sunday June 01, 2014 @09:59PM (#47144325)

    Did you actually read my post?

    I did, but that's the least of your problems.

    I didn't say he deserves to go to jail.

    You're really going to try and equivocate on this? "He is guilty." "It's illegal to take classified documents" "his legal liability" "the evidence is overwhelming". You've made it quite clear that you believe he's guilty, that the jury should not consider his actions justifiable, but you don't want him to serve time? Why yes, I would be interested in your oceanfront property in Nebraska....

    I happen to believe in trials.

    Just not for the top officials breaking the laws, your attempted backpedal aside. Anyone basing an argument on the law wouldn't fly over the mountain ranges of official lawbreaking to first point fingers at the molehill of whisteblowers. Here, I'll make it easy for you. A non-authoritarian, non-monarchist hack would say:

    "I want Snowden to stand trial, but thousands of officials from the NSA/CIA/Pentagon/State Department/White House better be in jail before him, since their crimes came first, are far more numerous, and far more severe."

    But that's not the argument any of you are making.

    the NSA doing it's job, like spying on foreigners

    Because Angela Merkel is really a sleeper agent for Al Qaeda. Before you play the "every body does that" defense, name which countries are even capable of spying on Obama's Blackberry.

  • by matbury (3458347) on Sunday June 01, 2014 @10:00PM (#47144333) Homepage

    I think there's a tendency to lose sight of why Snowden blew the whistle: The NSA, CIA, Homeland Security, DEA, and thousands of private security contractors that've sprung up since 9/11 are creating the aparatus of a security state. It's important to take a good, hard look at the other end of that road. Where does the security state lead to? I haven't heard it put better than this: "Christopher Hitchens - The Axis of Evil revisited", Fora.tvt, 2009 https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

    It's worrying that Washington is doubling down on its efforts to establish its security state now that it's been made public.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 01, 2014 @10:11PM (#47144375)

    Another issue is that it was said that he revealed names of other operatives.

    Care to point out to one particular case where an agent name was revealed by Snowden?

  • by Rich0 (548339) on Sunday June 01, 2014 @10:28PM (#47144419) Homepage

    I happen to believe in trials. So did the founding fathers.

    Then why didn't they turn themselves in at the nearest British courthouse for a trial? They were all wanted.

    Now, you can argue about what the law should have been, but you can't argue that they were indeed breaking the laws as they were written at the time.

  • by Bugler412 (2610815) on Sunday June 01, 2014 @11:11PM (#47144553)
    whether he is guilty or not is not a subject of voting and opinion polls. The percentages in favor or not have nothing to do with whether he guilty of committing a crime, whether the laws used to prosecute him are appropriate and constitutional, whether the governments efforts at pursuing a conviction are proper and correct, whether the public service and expression of rights done by Snowden overrides the intent of the law, etc. etc. All having nothing to do with a focus group or opinion poll
  • Well, you'd be naive if you believed the German's weren't spying on us in some fashion.

    Given that the US Gov is collectively shitting bricks over China allegedly spying on America and is busy indicting Chinese government employees, actually you'd be naive to believe Germany is doing anything like what the NSA has been doing. Do you think if Germany had managed to tap Obama and was busy following his phone around, taping his conversations with his generals etc America would just blow it off and say "oh no problem, we knew you were doing that and we're cool with it"? Of course not.

    Goddamn yanks. That's the whole problem with America summed up right there - the division of the world into only two categories, domestic and foreign, patriot and traitor. As if other countries and other people don't even exist. Then you wonder why a whopping 70% of under 30 in Europe want to give Snowden asylum [issuu.com] i.e. they would jump at the chance to massively piss off the USA and cause a diplomatic crisis. That's what they think of America.

    I'm not convinced the NSA is collecting more information about me than Google is

    Then you haven't been paying attention. The NSA has been collecting everything from Google via fibre taps, and lots more in addition. So by definition they are collecting more.

  • Snowden could have chosen to leak his documents anonymously through a Congressman. Amash would have loved to blame Obama for evil. Wyden is always good on these issues. And he probably could have done so anonymously, because the NSA can't piss off Congress or they all get fired

    That'd be the same Wyden who already knew a lot of what Snowden revealed and felt he couldn't say anything because it was all classified? The same Congress that discovered they'd been lied to, openly, baldly and repeatedly, and did diddly squat because it was a high ranking member of the security state who did it?

    Good one. Snowden did what he did because the entire US political structure has been subverted by the military to such an extent that there is nobody left who will hold them genuinely accountable. The press won't do it. Congress won't do it. The courts won't do it. The only guy left who will do it was a 30 year old former spy. That's what America is, now.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 01, 2014 @11:25PM (#47144601)

    2) It wasn't an execution, it was an armed conflict on a battlefield.

    They raided a person's house during an illegally conducted military operation in foreign country. [ahram.org.eg]
    The US government has danced around and blamed different government organizations but the fact remains that if it was a Title 10 operation then it was an illegal military operation as it was conducted in a foreign country that was not a US enemy and if it was a Title 50 operation then it was an illegal assassination.

    Americans were shot at from and inside the house.

    Irrelevant, they shouldn't have been there.

    There was every reason to believe that Osama would have a suicide vest or otherwise resist violently to capture.

    Yeah no shit if a bunch of my enemies smashed into my house during an illegal incursion in a foreign country id be pretty resistant to whatever the hell they wanted too!

    Osama made no attempt to surrender and was therefore a combatant.

    Firstly you don't know that and secondly if Pakistani troops smash into your house and you don't surrender does that make you a combatant and they can legally kill you? No.

    If they'd found him face down naked and spread eagle on the floor screaming "I surrender" they would have taken him alive.

    I suppose that's how people would find you if they broke into your house.

  • by dbIII (701233) on Sunday June 01, 2014 @11:31PM (#47144633)

    All of our other extraordinary renditions have been to countries where the victim was born.

    No. There are documented cases of people who were not from Syria or Egypt being shipped to those countries to be tortured in the presence of a US observer. That's one of the reasons why relations with both countries are a bit messy since the 200x governments of both had "dirt" on the US as well as an obligation due to co-operation.

  • by dbIII (701233) on Sunday June 01, 2014 @11:39PM (#47144669)

    helping the Aussies spy on Indonesia

    In that case it was to get a trade secret about the manufacture of clove cigarettes. Still happy about your taxpayer dollars at work? Risking relations with two allies presumably because someone in the NSA got bribed by a cigarette company.

  • by greenbird (859670) on Sunday June 01, 2014 @11:50PM (#47144705)

    I happen to believe in trials. So did the founding fathers.

    Huh. No. You're wrong. The founding fathers believed in fair trials and so do I. And that is why using the Espionage Act to prosecute an American revealing illegal government actions to the American people is unconstitutional. But the Constitution means nothing in the US anymore. Also Snowden has not admitted he's is guilty of espionage. But by charging him with that the government gets to suppress any defense based on the fact that he was revealing illegal unconstitutional actions by government agencies.

  • by greenbird (859670) on Sunday June 01, 2014 @11:56PM (#47144737)

    Well first you need a grand jury to indict them before they go on trial. I'm sure there's a lot of evidence to go over before that happens.

    If you really believe there is any chance of that you're seriously delusional. Clapper openly admitted he lied to congress.

    Justice rushed is not justice.

    Strange you claim this in defending the government officials who admittedly broke the law but have already declared Snowden guilty of a crime he should never even have been charged with.

  • by Vellmont (569020) on Monday June 02, 2014 @12:14AM (#47144791)

    Are you kidding me?

    Russia would be tough, but Snowden only wound up in Russia after he was left with no other options. So if he kept a low profile, he'd never have wound up in Russia.

    If you think the US doesn't have the power to take it's own citizens from many, many countries in the world and just make them disappear, you're living in a delusion, The US has a golden ticket that the lawyers have been ever-expanding their justification to do anything. It's called the Authorization_for_Use_of_Military_Force_Against_Terrorists [wikipedia.org], and it's been used to justify killing and targeting people that have no connection to the Sept 11 attacks. You think they wouldn't try use it to legally justify kidnapping Snowden?

    And if they couldn't do that, you think they wouldn't use a CIA operative to kidnap him, or get some other group to do it? Countries are mean motherfuckers. You're under the misapprehension that countries actions are ruled by laws. They aren't, they're ruled by politics and what they can get away with. The OP is right. If Snowden hadn't put up a big profile rather quickly, the US govt would have found him and hung him out to dry in one way or another. (And I'm certain Ed Snowden is under no illusion this would have happened, and likely was a major reason he DID come forward).

  • by mrxak (727974) on Monday June 02, 2014 @12:48AM (#47144891)

    Obviously by a trial I mean a fair trial. That's why I said "I would very much like to see him get a fair trial" in my original post. So no, I don't think I'm wrong. I think you're trying to turn me into a straw man. What I said was all pretty reasonable if you don't read into it any more than what I specifically said.

    Espionage is defined a specific way under the law. Snowden can deny he's committed espionage all he likes, but are you trying to say that he hasn't admitted to doing the things that the law defines as espionage? He has absolutely admitted to doing those things.

    This is like saying "no, I didn't murder anybody, but I did stab them repeatedly until they died." Yeah, you're a murderer according to the law whether you want to call yourself one or not. A prosecutor doesn't need to prove that you think that should be called murder, only that you stabbed somebody repeatedly until they died, and that the law defines that as murder which is illegal. The prosecution's case, seriously, would be over very quickly in the Snowden trial. All they have to do is read Snowden's statements back, and explain what laws he was admitting to breaking, regardless of what personal definition he might hold for that.

    It'd be up to Snowden's defense to try to argue for jury nullification. They could very well prevail in court. If they don't prevail in court, they can appeal, and appeal all the way up to the Supreme Court. If that doesn't work they can lobby for a commutation or a pardon. If the laws he broke are unjust, or unjustly applied in his case, it's going to take a trial to change those laws or the application of those laws. Internet posting won't accomplish anything. Personally, I'd like to see something accomplished. Wouldn't you?

  • by jelIomizer (3670957) on Monday June 02, 2014 @01:07AM (#47144937)

    I think the chances of either getting a trial any time soon is pretty slim. All of this is hypothetical.

    For different reasons, though. Clapper is a person in a position of power, and is doing things that many scumbags with power in the government agree with. These people are almost impossible to convict, short of extreme circumstances. Snowden simply ran away, and getting him while he's in a different country like Russia is difficult.

    Of course, if Snowden did stand trial, a moral jury would use jury nullification to prevent him from being convicted for the 'crime' of revealing the government's immoral activities.

    I think our justice system that includes jury nullification, appeals, commutations, and pardons is a good thing.

    We had some good ideas to be sure, but I wouldn't call it an overall good thing, what with plea bargains being allowed, prosecutors being encouraged to prosecute people whether or not they're guilty so they can increase their rate of successful prosecutions and be rewarded for it, the fact that the rich and powerful often get slapped on the wrist when normal people would be punished harshly, the fact that (as you pointed out, I believe) jury nullification is being discouraged, the fact that the Supreme Court routinely modifies the constitution with invisible ink to make the people have fewer rights and give the government more power, and a number of other things.

    So yeah, there are some good ideas here, but anyone planning on following our lead needs to take note of our many failings.

  • by HuguesT (84078) on Monday June 02, 2014 @02:46AM (#47145155)

    Jury nullification almost never happen, and in this case the jury would be carefully selected to completely exclude this remote possibility. Like it or now, your attitude summarizes a lot of what we hear about Snowden. Almost no one on the radio, newspaper, etc says anything about the crimes that Snowden has uncovered, and that will go unpunished, because, you know, everything is about Snowden.

    The best option for Snowden is to hide and wait for the American people to realize he was right all along, and a true hero like Ellsberg, and certainly not submit himself to some kangaroo court. If that never happens, the American people deserve their fate.

    Almost no one like heroes that disturb the comfortable status quo.

  • by stealth_finger (1809752) on Monday June 02, 2014 @04:30AM (#47145333)

    but the law defines what he did as espionage and he admitted to the acts).

    espionage

    spn,-d/

    noun

    noun: espionage

    the practice of spying or of using spies, typically by governments to obtain political and military information.

    That's quite different to unofficially releasing classified documents for the supposed exposition of wrongdoing, they may be trying to call it espionage but it's not. The end result may be very similar although I'm pretty sure most entities don't publicly release the fruits of their espionage.

  • by Antique Geekmeister (740220) on Monday June 02, 2014 @07:01AM (#47145637)

    > Spreading it around to make absolutely sure that Pakistan is helping the Taliban and Al Queda to make good, constructive use of it

    Nonsense. From their own testimony, NSA personnel have admitted that Snowden repeatedly went to his own superiors and his own chain of command about criminal behavior by his own colleagues and superiors, criminal behavior in violation of US law, the US constitution, and international treaties. He's done what he can to keep purely internal security documents _unpublished_, by attempting to filter it of genuine security risks to US personnel and civilians worldwide.

    He had no rational recourse left to help prevent criminal, abusive behavior on a worldwide scale. I'm afraid that your protestations sound like those of corrupt police departments when discovered beating prisoners. "If you testify, it helps the drug lords."

  • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo@@@world3...net> on Monday June 02, 2014 @07:46AM (#47145723) Homepage

    How naive are you? Do you really think that if Snowden could access all that material that the Russians and Chinese hadn't already? The techniques Snowden used, basic social engineering, are so primitive and obvious that it's hard to imagine foreign spies having any difficulty at all getting in.

    There is no way Snowden could have revealed what the NSA was doing and backed it up with irrefutable evidence without providing information that may help people being targeted. Not just the domestic spying, but the unacceptable spying on supposed allies. Sometimes you have to reveal details to reveal wrong doing, and in the case of the NSA it had to be the original files with minimal redactions because he knew they would do everything to discredit him (and they did).

    The NSA is entirely to blame, not Snowden. He did the right thing.

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Monday June 02, 2014 @08:53AM (#47145985) Homepage Journal

    Geez, a guy can't come out in favor of fair trials without getting called an authoritarian. Who knew?

    No one calling for a trial of Snowden is "coming out in favor of fair trials", because Snowden would not get a fair trial. They are coming out in favor of kangaroo courts. You demonstrate awareness of this when you say that "All kinds of things could happen" during a trial of Snowden.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 02, 2014 @10:46AM (#47146723)

    At least you gave Manning a mention. I hardly ever see John Kiriakou's name brought up when talking whistleblowers who've exposed US administration war crimes.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Kiriakou

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