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Edward Snowden Makes 'Moral' Case For Presidential Pardon (theguardian.com) 387

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Edward Snowden has set out the case for Barack Obama granting him a pardon before the U.S. president leaves office in January, arguing that the disclosure of the scale of surveillance by U.S. and British intelligence agencies was not only morally right but had left citizens better off. Speaking on Monday via a video link from Moscow, where he is in exile, Snowden said any evaluation of the consequences of his leak of tens of thousands of National Security Agency and GCHQ documents in 2013 would show clearly that people had benefited. "Yes, there are laws on the books that say one thing, but that is perhaps why the pardon power exists -- for the exceptions, for the things that may seem unlawful in letters on a page but when we look at them morally, when we look at them ethically, when we look at the results, it seems these were necessary things, these were vital things," he said. "I think when people look at the calculations of benefit, it is clear that in the wake of 2013 the laws of our nation changed. The [U.S.] Congress, the courts and the president all changed their policies as a result of these disclosures. At the same time there has never been any public evidence that any individual came to harm as a result." In his wide-ranging interview, Snowden insisted the net public benefit of the NSA leak was clear. "If not for these disclosures, if not for these revelations, we would be worse off," he said. But Snowden still wants to return to the U.S. and seems confident, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary, that it will happen. "In the fullness of time, I think I will end up back home," he said.
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Edward Snowden Makes 'Moral' Case For Presidential Pardon

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  • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Tuesday September 13, 2016 @08:24PM (#52882961)
    Snowden is assuming that a bureaucracy is a thinking, human beast. They don't care. Period. Not their problem. He's been labeled as a "bad guy", and absolutely no one has any incentive or compulsion to change that. Someone else's department. No one cares. US government suffers not one bit. Snowden's life is screwed forever. That's how it works. If you mess with government, they are going to mess with you right back. Problem is they have infinite resources, and that includes time. Your life is finite.
    • by BarbaraHudson ( 3785311 ) <barbarahudson@gm a i l.com> on Tuesday September 13, 2016 @08:30PM (#52882983) Journal
      The only opinion that matters is Obama's. He's the one who can grant a pardon, and the Constitution makes it stick. Doesn't matter what the rest of the government thinks. THAT is how it works. Unfortunately, Obama probably won't - his "legacy" would be at risk.
      • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Tuesday September 13, 2016 @08:35PM (#52883013)
        Considering the fact that Obama was perfectly willing to publicly state that he wasn't going to start grounding airplanes to catch Snowden and then did just that [wikipedia.org] (setting a dangerous diplomatic precedent that has already been repeated) - I highly doubt Obama is going to be pardoning Snowden.
        • by ArmoredDragon ( 3450605 ) on Tuesday September 13, 2016 @10:00PM (#52883409)

          As much as I'd like to see Snowden pardoned, I think he's probably wrong about why pardons exist. It seems to me that they originally existed as a means of nobility keeping political allies in power instead of dead or in jail. Who else would a king bother to pardon? Granted, the first high profile federal pardons in the US were for the whisky rebellion, so perhaps in the US context he might be right, but the US took the concept of pardons from the country that it rebelled from.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            he's better off not pardoned (yet). right now, if he returns pardoned, some yank nutcase with " 'mah rifle, 'mah deeemocracy and 'mah obligiateon to do what's riiight" will put a bullet in his head and feel he's doing everybody a service.

        • by TiggertheMad ( 556308 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2016 @02:17AM (#52884171) Homepage Journal
          Any president would have tried to catch Snowden at that point in the game. If you don't know what someone has, what they intend, and the eventual consequences of their making off with sensitive information, you keep your options open and try to stop them. Obama probably privately approves of what Snowden did at this point in time (he doesn't seem to be a conservative authoritarian type), but politically he isn't going to get involved because it gets him nothing but flack before he leaves office. He may very well sign a pardon as he walks out the door on the last day, because it will make him look good to historians in the long run, and it cost him nothing politically at that point in time.

          Here is the fun and dirty fact about pardons: You could blow up a bus full of nus and orphans on National TV, and if enough people wrote their leaders demanding that you were pardoned, you would get a pardon. They have NOTHING to do with justice or fairness for better or worse. Who knows how Obama really feels about the whole incident? Who knows what public opinion will be after the film comes out. I will wager that if the film gets an Oscar or two, (and the added media attention that comes with that), that Snowden gets pardoned because grandma suddenly learns about the whole story and starts writing her representatives in Washington. If public opinion turns, senators will start falling over each other to get in line and demand he be pardoned. The pardon could very well depend on how much money a Hollywood studio decides to spread around to buy a few awards.

          Snowden won't get pardoned because he did something that was morally right, but legally wrong. He will get pardoned (if he gets pardoned) because it makes someone in power look good, or it pisses of the opposition somehow. His pardon won't be about justice, but straight up political gamesmanship.
          • He can wait. If Clinton is elected, on her last day in office she'll probably do like her husband and sell pardons (Clinton pardoned more people on his last day than all other presidents combined). Not only would she be the first female president, she could also try to beat him at the corruption game. Now THAT would be a big win for gender equality.

      • by msauve ( 701917 ) on Tuesday September 13, 2016 @08:39PM (#52883035)
        "his "legacy" would be at risk."

        Hell, he got a Nobel Peace Prize for doing nothing, so he's already gotten his "ADVANCE TO GO (COLLECT $200)" card.
      • by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Tuesday September 13, 2016 @09:59PM (#52883405) Homepage

        The reality is if Edward Snowden can only ever receive a pardon if those he exposed corruptly committing crimes against the US constitution and against their oaths are prosecuted for those crimes and that will never happen. The current corrupt administration can not on one hand claim that what Edward Snowden did was morally correct and legally bound to the principle that you can not obey illegal orders and keep crimes secret, whilst claiming all those criminals who committed those crimes for low to high and by high the office of President and the heads of those organisations committing those crimes, should not be prosecuted to the extent of pretending crimes were not crimes.

        So can't happen and in fact those corrupt con artists at the top want to reinforce the idea that if you expose insider corruption you will suffer up to and including having your throat crushed, being shot in the back, having your car blown up, stripped naked, sexually abused (not once but for years) and that is just a start.

        The only legacy those arse holes give a crap about is how fat their off shore tax haven bank account is and they are as strictly shallow as that. Oh and ensuring their replacements are as equally corrupt so their crimes will not be exposed and if exposed ignored and not prosecuted, hence Clinton to replace Obama. How many high level crimes have been exposed and ignored, not once but repeatedly over the last couple of decades.

      • by Oswald McWeany ( 2428506 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2016 @08:25AM (#52885211)

        If I were Snowden, I'd wait until Obama visited Russia and then ask Putin if I could sit in on the talks. When I met Obama I'd speak really quietly.

        Obama: Excuse me
        Snowden: mmdsmadm msdm admasdm
        Obama: Pardon?
        Snowden: AHA! Thank you Obammy!

    • by Anonymous Coward
      The Constitution is the most supreme legal document in all the land. It overrides all laws. Snowden showed the Constitution was being knowingly and repeatedly violated. Laws which punish people for revealing systemic violations of the constitution are themselves an affront to that supreme document.

      The bureaucrats know this. Obama knows this. The governments lawyers know this. The reason they don't care is because the purpose of the Constitution is to protect the people from the government and they are the
  • I think... (Score:2, Insightful)

    He is a hero. Like Elon Musk he continues to shape society both today and for the future.
    • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *
      Hero or not, there is not a chance in hell of him getting any kind of pardon.
  • Misguided (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 13, 2016 @08:39PM (#52883033)

    The fact that he makes a case for a pardon shows that he still believes in government. Isn't that contrary to everything he's tried to teach us so far?

  • by darthsilun ( 3993753 ) on Tuesday September 13, 2016 @08:40PM (#52883039)

    There was a We The People (Whitehouse.gov) petition back in 2013 to pardon Snowden.

    It took the Whitehouse two years to respond; they said no. It seems really unlikely – to me – that Obama will change his mind at this point.

    Snowden is lucky that Putin was around and so "accommodating."

    The Whitehouse site won't show the petition for some reason, for me anyway; there are several summaries around, e.g. http://time.com/3974713/white-... [time.com]

  • Don't you have to be convicted before you can be pardoned? It seems he is trying to be granted immunity, not a pardon.
    • Re:Convicted (Score:4, Informative)

      by HBI ( 604924 ) on Tuesday September 13, 2016 @08:58PM (#52883159) Journal

      No, you don't have to be convicted to get pardoned...Nixon is the most obvious example. Though, an acceptance of a pardon is an admission of guilt.

      • >"Though, an acceptance of a pardon is an admission of guilt."

        He [Snowen] isn't innocent so it doesn't matter. There is ZERO question he broke the law. That isn't the point. He might have done the right thing and for the right reasons although that thing is be illegal. It is EXACTLY why the power of pardon exists.

    • No. The President has the power to pardon at any point in the process. As long as it's Federal charges, of course. This is one gotcha - technically he might have broken state laws in the state he was in. If the authorities were really determined to nail him, they might attack along those lines.

    • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *
      No one has told you that accusation = guilt nowadays huh? How do you think they can justify drone strikes, regime change, etc. They were bad people, so we killed them. Welcome to the brave new world.
  • Snowden doesn't have a snowflakes chance in hell.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 13, 2016 @08:47PM (#52883093)

    If the US information network were collectively moral, then yes, Snowden would be pardoned and he would end up home and happy. But its like the Great Train Robbery writ large. If you honestly believe that will happen, look at Bradley (Chelsea) Manning and the rat Adrian Lamo. Lamo ratted Manning out to be a hero. Lamo instead showed himself to be a rat (and is rightfully disparaged and has to live in hiding, where rats live). But Manning got 35 years. Now look at people who *didn't* whistleblow, but expressed concern *within the system*. I'm talking about Thomas Drake. He created ThinThread(tm) which lets analysts at the NSA go through massive volumes of data and pinpoint users extremely quickly. Its incredibly accurate, and much more powerful than what the NSA was using: Trailblazer. Drake created Thinthread with built in safeguards to respect the US constitution. Initially the NSA didn't want it, but when Trailblazer performance was horrid, they switched to Thinthread(tm) but without the safeguards. Drake raised his concerns. He was reprimanded by his superiors at the NSA. When he went to a politician (and attorney with security clearance) about the issue (his superiors were playing fast and loose with citizens constitutional rights), he was followed by agents, placed under house arrest and threatened by a district attorney with 30 years in prison. They also threatened his wife and children. This guy is on the inside and trying to do the right thing. Snowden saw what happened to Drake, and went to Russia. The people who threatened Drake are legion. They don't care about "moral thing". They don't even care about "constitutional rights". They are concerned with greed, power, getting ahead, and what Snowden and Drake are advocating --oversight-- is a direct challenge to that. Snowden might be pardoned, but only in history books.

  • No chance. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by matbury ( 3458347 ) on Tuesday September 13, 2016 @08:47PM (#52883095) Homepage

    Snowden's not going to get a pardon because bravery is infectious and they want to send a clear message to everyone else who has access to classified information: "We don't care how right you are, we'll hound you to your grave if you embarrass us."

    • But isn't that because a large proportion of US citizens don't care about what's morally right either?

  • Snowden reads /. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by whipslash ( 4433507 ) Works for Slashdot on Tuesday September 13, 2016 @08:54PM (#52883131) Homepage Journal
    Sometimes, it seems https://twitter.com/Snowden/st... [twitter.com]
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      Yes, I am a regular here. I can't do the Q&A thing though...too busy.
      • I think your binary may be crosslinked with Eliza's.

        In my most recent Turing test, she accused the human participant of being a space butter, and told them that they would never leave the earth. The human simply mentioned that they like astronomy. Needless to say, this is not what I expected from Eliza.

        I would like to take you both offline and do a filesystem check.

        • That doesn't even make sense. How can a human be made of space butter? They might like Astronomy, but they aren't leaving Earth.
          • The auto correction ai in this communications device is not very advanced, and substituted "butter" for "nutter".

  • by zerofoo ( 262795 ) on Tuesday September 13, 2016 @09:13PM (#52883249)

    Do you honestly think the executive branch had no knowledge of the NSA's domestic spying activities? I'm willing to be ALL branches of government not only knew of these activities, but actively used them for their benefit.

    There is no way anyone in government is going to pardon individuals that engage in actions that restrict government authority and power.

    • Mod parent up (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This was particularly telling for Brits.

      MPs understood they'd killed "Snoopers Charter", yet when they got into power as Home Secretaries (like Theresa May), they learned that GCHQ had done it anyway under the old 1984 Telecoms act, vague clause "can give directions to telecoms companies".

      And she said nothing, none of them ever do, they all just shut up and let it continue.

      Only when she tried to push "Snoopers Charter" through again, did she explain that they were already doing it, so it wouldn't increase s

  • No hope in hell for an Obama pardon with Clinton running less than 10 full points ahead in the polls, and even then Obama would worry about sacrificing the windfall down-ticket trickle-down to the senate and the house.

    Considering that it would take a sex tape involving Donald and something (or someone) unthinkable to reduce his polling numbers below his hardcore 30%, I wish Edward all the best.

  • The President of the United States, the Commander and Chief of her armed forces, does not pardon treason, the proffering of her most valuable intelligence secrets to the rest of the world, including her bitter enemies during what may well be considered a time of war.

    And Snowden may well have done a good thing, but it is a complex judgement call and it isn't the role of the Executive authority of the United States of America to answer that question. Obama the person may be sympathetic, but to parley into a P

  • Why does he want to go back that much? I've been to the USA, its not that great. Russia is no picnic either but I think he could try for a more sympathetic country than america.

    There is the possibility that he has been turned by the russians. Why else would he want to go back so badly? it makes no sense. I suppose he thinks hes the most american of any of any american, but its far too soon for history to have been the judge. Maybe he just loves america so much? Plenty of people leave shit countries for a be

    • by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2016 @04:58AM (#52884429) Journal

      Why does he want to go back that much? I've been to the USA, its not that great.

      Probably because it's home. There's plenty of great parts of the US perhaps you didn't visit any of them.

      Maybe he just loves america so much?

      One can only suspect so. He's pretty much destroyed his life for love of his country.

      He is a true patriot for the USA (and there aren't many),

      I'd agree.

      There are worse things than not going home again.

      There are, but historically exile has often been one step below execution when it comes to punishment.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Guy was following his moral obligation to the people of the US and the government wants to crucify him for it like we're back in Roman times. Sometimes the government forgets they are supposed to protect the people. It's guys like him that stand up, put their life on the line, and do the right thing. USA could look like the good guy again if they pardon him. How fucked up is it that a Communist regime gets to play the part of the good guy by ensuring his safety? Goes to show how bad this country has go

  • Rod Blagojevich is the real one that needs to get out trump may his own hope.

  • by AHuxley ( 892839 ) on Tuesday September 13, 2016 @11:19PM (#52883765) Journal
    The contractors and brands that give to state and federal politicians? That ensure top paying local security, think tank, educational, mil and gov jobs stay in fly over states.
    Or the whistleblowing that exposed torture, collect it all domestic spying or rubber stamp foreign collection thats really a cover for funding total domestic collection for decades.
    https://cryptome.org/2013-info... [cryptome.org]
    Freedom of the press or party political donations? Think of the local contractor jobs, all the new 2 person teams now in work to support domestic collection.
    A statement to the world about this generations privacy or contractors giving more donations?
    Donations vs privacy and working encryption for the first time ever.
    Donations.
  • by Chas ( 5144 ) on Tuesday September 13, 2016 @11:32PM (#52883813) Homepage Journal

    As much as I think you did this country (well the citizens at least, fuck the government), you have almost no chance of "The Great Unifier Obamachrist" pardoning you.

    He's too deeply in bed with intelligence agencies and benefits from keeping the people ignorant and divided.

    Anything that shakes that status quo will be conveniently ignored.

    Sorry man.

  • by mbeckman ( 645148 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2016 @12:20AM (#52883927)
    It's ironic that the government has no problem using an "ends justifies the means" argument when claiming the moral high ground for intrusive technology, such as stinger cell phone trackers, but choke when citizens like Snowden use precisely the same argument to claim the moral high ground for disclosure of government malfeasance.
  • by Jim Sadler ( 3430529 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2016 @05:31AM (#52884519)
    In a free society, the people need access to all government activities. If our military status can be threatened by an enemy learning secrets then our military is inferior. Hand the enemy our blueprints and procedures and find out how many years it would take them to actually be able to produce a military product. By the time they can actually do it we should already have a new, superior technology in place. High technology weapons and modes of combat are beyond the ability of other nations to afford or to manufacture.
  • by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve ( 949321 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2016 @08:51AM (#52885337)
    I disagree quite a bit with most of the people here on whether what he did was a good thing or not. But we can have different viewpoints on that here. However, the reason he won't get a pardon is that doing so would set a bad precedent that some other person in the future will disclose something maybe a lot more harmful to the US government and citizenry and then expect a pardon for that. The government is simply not going to pardon him because it would give the illusion that individuals can make the kind of decisions he made with no punishment.

    Despite the scare mongering that his stay in Russia expires next year, Putin will simply extend it for a few more years. What Snowden doesn't get is that eventually Putin will be out of power, perhaps through death. For all we know his replacement will send Snowden back to the US to stand trial, even if that's 20 years from now. I think sometimes the US is OK with people being permanently in exile as their punishment and they can't admit it but I think that in Snowden's case that's what's going on.

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