New York Times calls for Snowden clemency

Image representing Edward Snowden as depicted ...

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Today, the New York Times editorial board has called for clemency for Edward Snowden. The board lays out the case in a powerful fashion.

Excerpt:

Considering the enormous value of the information he has revealed, and the abuses he has exposed, Mr. Snowden deserves better than a life of permanent exile, fear and flight. He may have committed a crime to do so, but he has done his country a great service. It is time for the United States to offer Mr. Snowden a plea bargain or some form of clemency that would allow him to return home, face at least substantially reduced punishment in light of his role as a whistle-blower, and have the hope of a life advocating for greater privacy and far stronger oversight of the runaway intelligence community.

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Beyond the mass collection of phone and Internet data, consider just a few of the violations he revealed or the legal actions he provoked:

  • The N.S.A. broke federal privacy laws, or exceeded its authority, thousands of times per year, according to the agency’s own internal auditor.
  • The agency broke into the communications links of major data centers around the world, allowing it to spy on hundreds of millions of user accounts and infuriating the Internet companies that own the centers. Many of those companies are now scrambling to install systems that the N.S.A. cannot yet penetrate.
  • The N.S.A. systematically undermined the basic encryption systems of the Internet, making it impossible to know if sensitive banking or medical data is truly private, damaging businesses that depended on this trust.
  • His leaks revealed that James Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, lied to Congress when testifying in March that the N.S.A. was not collecting data on millions of Americans. (There has been no discussion of punishment for that lie.)
  • The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court rebuked the N.S.A. for repeatedly providing misleading information about its surveillance practices, according to a ruling made public because of the Snowden documents. One of the practices violated the Constitution, according to the chief judge of the court.
  • A federal district judge ruled earlier this month that the phone-records-collection program probably violates the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. He called the program “almost Orwellian” and said there was no evidence that it stopped any imminent act of terror.

The Guardian has also issued an editorial calling for a pardon for Snowden.

A pardon or clemency for Snowden would be a great beginning of 2014.