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The New York Times Pushes For Clemency For Snowden 354

Posted by timothy
from the he-should-get-a-reward-too dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "The Editorial Board of the New York Times has weighed in on the criminal charges facing Edward Snowden and writes that '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.' The president said in August that Snowden should come home to face charges in court and suggested that if Snowden had wanted to avoid criminal charges he could have simply told his superiors about the abuses, acting, in other words, as a whistle-blower. In fact, notes the editorial board, the executive order regarding whistleblowers did not apply to contractors, only to intelligence employees, rendering its protections useless to Snowden. More important, Snowden told The Washington Post that he did report his misgivings to two superiors at the agency, showing them the volume of data collected by the NSA, and that they took no action. 'Snowden was clearly justified in believing that the only way to blow the whistle on this kind of intelligence-gathering was to expose it to the public and let the resulting furor do the work his superiors would not. ... When someone reveals that government officials have routinely and deliberately broken the law, that person should not face life in prison at the hands of the same government,' concludes the editorial. 'President Obama should tell his aides to begin finding a way to end Mr. Snowden's vilification and give him an incentive to return home.'"
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The New York Times Pushes For Clemency For Snowden

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 02, 2014 @09:59AM (#45845019)

    and the Medal of Honor, just for starters. Snowden has done more for this country than our "Nobel Peace Prize" winning President!

  • Cold Fjord (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 02, 2014 @10:01AM (#45845047)

    Just waiting for Cold Fjord to make some government approved comment on why Snowden should have turned himself in without doing any whistle-blowing to begin with, and why what NSA does should be considered legal, regardless of how much it violates the constitution.

  • by OzPeter (195038) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @10:04AM (#45845077)

    Why??? Snowden did far more harm than good. Nothing has been done about anything he revealed, courts have been ruling it's legal.

    So you are totally skipping over the whole "lying to congress" thing as if its inconsequential?

    Snowden may have pulled the curtain away to reveal what was suspected with regards to who spies on who, but in doing so he also showed that the intelligence services were out of control and arrogant in their stance.

  • Re:no way (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 02, 2014 @10:05AM (#45845081)

    He has damaged our ability to know what Angela Merkel and our allies are up to.


  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 02, 2014 @10:05AM (#45845089)

    Fuck you, statist scum.

  • Re:Hang him (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nitehawk214 (222219) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @10:08AM (#45845103)

    That is the appropriate response to what he did.

    ---- Booth was a patriot ---- If you dont agree with me, dont bother replying as i dont care what you have to say ----

    So says the guy with "Booth was a patriot" in his sig. Now that is funny.

  • by Karmashock (2415832) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @10:08AM (#45845105)

    They shouldn't have broken the law. Yes the courts have ruled it all legal but everyone knows that to be a farce.

    They shouldn't have persecuted Snowden. What has that accomplished?

    They shouldn't have doubled down on their right to spy because that has caused an international incident.

    And now their corporate partners are all turning on them one by one.

    Give up, NSA. Have the national discussion you should have had a generation ago. We'll talk about it.

    If we decide as a nation to go down that path... so be it. But we won't. Which means you'll have to operate within more limited rules and capabilities. And as much as that might vex you or put the public at greater risk such is the price of living in a free country.

    What you have done is wrong. What snowden did violated the law but served the interests of the American people. We owe it to him to shield him and any like him.

    If we don't stand up for men like Snowden then what chance do any of us have when the feds come for YOU.

  • by allypally (2858133) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @10:12AM (#45845139)

    Snowden has mainly revealed metadata -- what info collection programs exist, rather than actual data -- what was collected.

    The NSA has emphasised what it does is benign as in mainly collects metadata.

    Metadata -- no harm. no foul on either side.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 02, 2014 @10:13AM (#45845149)

    Snowden did far more harm than good to the US government and the businesses wielding the US government like a club. For the rest of the world, Snowden gave us something we didn't have before: knowledge. We got information on who was spying on us and how. Who could be trusted and why. Which protocols were known to be compromised. NIST nearly lost all their credibility as a cryptography standards body. RSA lost the remainder of its credibility. Google and other companies discovered the government was stealing their data. The NSA was revealed as the most lawless organization on the planet, briefly eclipsing the CIA in illegal notoriety.

    And we're supposed to just sweep this all under the rug because "everyone's doing it" and "oh look you pissed our allies off, now look what you've done?" What they're doing is wrong and illegal -- and the only reason they've been getting away with it is because they had no one that could hold them accountable. (Whether the public can actually hold them accountable in a representative democracy is currently up for open debate.)

  • by turp182 (1020263) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @10:14AM (#45845153) Journal

    What harm can come from the truth that is not deserved?

    We are free to do what we please, but the legal system SHOULD deal out punishment for indiscretions (especially those that go against the ultimate law of the land, for the US this is the Constitution). As you pointed out, no one has been punished, this is THE core fault in the system given the public's knowledge of things.

    Evidence of Constitutional breaches are important, evidence is far more powerful than what "everyone already knew" ("suspected" would have been a better word). Otherwise "knowing" is simply the realm of those with tin foil hats (who I have to assume have upgraded to full steel medieval helmets).

    Some of us still care about the Constitution, and would like to see it upheld.

    Burn a flag, everyone freaks out. Burn the Constitution, no one notices. This is especially clear given the critical information Snowden has released.

    The Constitution is on fire. And that is what "we deserve"???

  • In perspective (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Akratist (1080775) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @10:14AM (#45845165)
    We have a president who, after promising the most open administration ever, has done a complete 180 and tried to limit press coverage, access to records and administration officials, and so on. He has offered pardons to fewer people than any other president. That doesn't sound like a welcoming environment to come home to, when you get right down to it. That said, I've always had mixed feelings about Snowden. To be honest, China and Russia probably know much about what is going on, because they do the same things themselves. In addition, it's not unlike the Wikileaks dump...people in Iraq and Afghanistan know what's going on's the American people who are kept in the dark. On the other hand, we want the "American standard of living," which is no different from the "British Way" back in the 1800s, and so on. We're not a bucolic merchant republic any more. America is a global empire, the Rome of our day, and maintaining that position requires an awful lot of "off the books" action. People scream for more security, lower gas prices, salute the flag all over the place, and don't want to deal with paying taxes to maintain military hegemony, the rabid pursuit of dissent, or the corruption which invariably accompanies a concentration of power.
  • by Akratist (1080775) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @10:16AM (#45845179)
    Maybe it has something to do with those two nations being part of a small group that isn't beholden, in one way or another, to the U.S., and therefore would be significantly less likely to put a bag over his head and send him back to the states?
  • by MonsterMasher (518641) <> on Thursday January 02, 2014 @10:19AM (#45845221)

    Well, it took a few years as a young man to realize that all those special laws with all those good moral purposes, well - they never actually apply to you.

    Learn this. Marriage, for example bad idea today for men. Was maybe okay for your grandparents but things change and a person must look around and see what actually applies (and fits) for them.

    Snowden and Manning are examples of the same thing. One is in jail and tortured for years, the other one knew the score and had the resources to take the smart steps.

    Snowden get's a pardon only after Manning, as far as I'm concerned, not until. You can't just take the one you like though they are the same motivators.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 02, 2014 @10:20AM (#45845227)

    So, the Press is finally doing its fucking job ?

  • by King_TJ (85913) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @10:22AM (#45845247) Journal

    Really? So what have YOU done to further the hope for greater freedom in the United States?

    IMO, he's exactly the type of hero our country needs many more of.... People willing to take action when they see government wrong-doing, rather than sit back, collecting a paycheck at the taxpayer's expense, and perpetuating the problem. All the while, convincing themselves they're "just doing their job".

    If nothing gets done based on what he revealed, that just speaks to how deep we're all stuck in the pit of Fascism, inside our nation that pays lip service to completely different concepts. The courts should NOT be ruling this stuff is legal, and people should be outraged when they do! Unfortunately, we seem to live in a country where the majority still take an attitude of, "I don't care as long as it doesn't affect me personally right now. I'll happily piss away a basic right or freedom if it punishes people for doing something I'm not personally a fan of."

    As far as your claim that all Snowden did was confirm what everyone already knew? I strongly disagree with that! I don't think the vast majority of people knew, for example, that the NSA might redirect your mail orders for brand new computer systems, planting spyware on them before they reached your address. I don't think the vast majority of people knew for sure that the NSA collected as much information about US citizens as we now know it does. (It's one thing to joke in passing about how the government "already knows you sent that email" or "heard what you said in that phone call". But that just speaks to a very vague, general sense that a well funded government agency with spying capabilities could theoretically do such a thing. Having an inside contractor verify they actually do it, AND detailing the extent of it is a whole different level.)

    The fact Snowden found it safer to run to a nation known for a lack of personal liberty and huge privacy issues speaks volumes about how far the USA has slipped. If our country was a more sane and just place to live, he would never have felt the need to flee at all! Fact is, he couldn't trust any of the B.S. spouted off by govt. officials, promising to work with him if he just turned himself in. (Heck, a former head of the NSA was recently quoted as essentially saying he'd like to see Snowden's head on a platter.) These people still view him a a traitor who deserves execution, since he didn't go along with the status quo of trampling all over the rights of U.S. citizens in order to build a more powerful organization for themselves.

  • Unimpressive... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @10:31AM (#45845299) Journal
    While such a position is surprisingly non-toadying for the NYT, fuck 'clemency'. 'Clemency' is the merciful withholding of some portion of a deserved punishment. Since Snowden deserves a hero's welcome, rather than any punishment, 'clemency' is an insult.

    If there's anyone who is in a position to be begging for 'clemency' it's the Oh-So-Very-Serious-and-Responsible spooks currently whining about how much damage Snowden has allegedly done to their hitherto impressive record of completely and utterly unverifiable or demonstrable terrorist hunting.
  • Re: NY Times? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 02, 2014 @10:33AM (#45845333)

    Government for the people by the people
    The hell it isn't about the court of public opinion in this case. I don't know of too many people in this country that are happy with or want the government doing what its doing to their own citizens... The same citizens the government should be working for not against....

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 02, 2014 @10:41AM (#45845417)

    Unfortunately, Snowden did one unforgivable act.

    He embarrassed the government and the people in power, and thereby threatened that power. They could forgive almost any other sin than that one, but that particular sin requires a burning at the stake, according to the people who make the rules.

    It's not so much the embarrassment itself - psychopaths generally could care less about what other people think of them, and therefore generally don't feel that emotion. But that it threatened their power? Totally unforgivable.

  • by sl4shd0rk (755837) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @10:44AM (#45845441)

    Snowden is probably better off in Russia. Does NY Times have the balls to start talking about bringing charges against the NSA ? 2,776 incidents of unauthorized collection of legally protected communications []

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 02, 2014 @10:46AM (#45845459)

    Can we all now put pressure on Congress to have Clapper tried for high treason? you know it makes far more sense than accusing Snowden of the same offense!

  • by tekrat (242117) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @10:48AM (#45845477) Homepage Journal

    Let's be clear; the NSA has not broken the letter of the law, simply because there are judges, and a government backing those judges, that deems what the NSA is doing is appropriate and legal.

    However; the NSA has certainly broken the spirit of the law, and certainly, those Americans that created the bill of rights and particularly the 4th Amendment to the Constitution, would be appalled at the government over-reach and how a government of the people and for the people has been corrupted into something else, something that smacks of evil.

    So, whether you think Snowden is a hero or a traitor seems to hinge on whether you agree with the spirit or the letter of the law.

    And the New York Times is foolish to appeal to the government to consider the spirit of the law, because it's the lawyers and accountants who have corrupted that law by many decades of "loopholing" the letter of the law, finding every legal out they can to avoid paying taxes or winning a case -- to the point where the spirit of the law is no longer a consideration, which is also why every piece of legislation is now thousands of pages long, and not four pages.

    It's unfortunate that we no longer have a justice system in this country, which would observe the spirit of the law, we have a LEGAL system in this country, which only observes the letter. And by the letter of the law, Snowden is guilty of his crimes, which is why if you're looking for justice, you have to leave this country.

  • Re:Incentive? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 02, 2014 @10:51AM (#45845505)

    And that, sir, would make them no better than China, the country we keep accusing of violating the most basic human rights?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 02, 2014 @10:52AM (#45845515)


  • Re:In perspective (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RoLi (141856) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @11:02AM (#45845625)

    a "complete 180"? What are you talking about?

    Obama was secretive right from the start in his campaign. He closed down all documentation from his supposed studies in university. (Which proves that he has pretty powerful forces behind him - not every candidate can get such kind of secrecy.) What does the public know about Obama? Not much. All his supposed friends he describes in his book turned out to be fictitious, nobody has ever seen him in the universities he supposedly went, nobody knows why he used two different social security numbers, etc.

    His presidency is just a continuation of all that secrecy.

    The only thing I know about him is that he turned up and the media told the American people to vote for him which they duly did.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 02, 2014 @11:07AM (#45845669)

    Government employees swear an oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. I think you've confused who broke the higher law and in how many instances and who deserves a firing squad.

  • Re:Incentive? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Luckyo (1726890) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @11:09AM (#45845679)

    They are already worse than China in terms of some of the human rights. After all, they destroyed one such right, right to privacy already. And they are doing it while accusing China of possibly doing it.

    So that particular bridge has been burned down long, long ago.

    And if you think that CIA doesn't use the "lest something happens to your family" just as much as other intelligence agencies, I have land on the moon to sell you.

  • by some old guy (674482) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @11:12AM (#45845717)

    It was labeled as such. That's what an editorial is.


  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 02, 2014 @11:23AM (#45845841)

    Yes, people here need to stop trotting out the line that he could have taken "appropriate channels". There ARE no appropriate channels in practice. See Thomas Drake. Ellsberg himself has said he would have been jailed for life in today's climate and agrees Snowden did the right/only feasible thing in leaving.

    Snowden's only somewhat free today because he rightly did not believe justice exists any more in his home nation.

  • by Antipater (2053064) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @11:25AM (#45845875)
    You know, I actually respect cold fjord. He posts thought-out arguments, is sharp enough to catch when someone is bullshitting, and doesn't often (at least that I've seen) start randomly insulting people. Even though I disagree with him, he's the kind of person that I like to see on /. and other forums. You need differing opinions if you ever want to have an intelligent conversation. GP is an example of the only differing opinions we'd get if people like fjord left ("omg fuck the hivemind! lawlawl snowden==traitor!"). I don't want that, and I'm guessing neither do most of the other people here.
  • by turp182 (1020263) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @11:35AM (#45845973) Journal

    He should get a pass for everything. Shoot, give him $10 million US and a pile of gold, he is the winner of the "Who watches the Watchers?" award of the year.

    Why? He exposed what is basically the collection of "all information" (anyone, anywhere, anytime, at least where there is some technology).

    Good or bad, the US spies on everyone. No one's cell phone is out of the question. No one.

    Total Information Awareness has been achieved: []

      Are you comfortable with that?

    Blowback will include a return to cash transactions, more barter, and in-person communications (maybe personal letters, I have a feeling they are monitored as well). Basically a revolution against technology. The Matrix is a great model, some have woken up (escaped the system, maybe never in the system), most are still asleep and monitored, and the system itself can fully track anyone that hasn't woken up.

    The US government is the machines from the Matrix (is or are, complicated question?).

    I just scared myself with the realization. When Agent Smith spoke of humanity being a disease it never dawned on me that the machines were also a disease. And one that, while suckily, were resolved by the end of the extra movies. If only the complete spying by a "free" country could be resolved so easily, via a few hours of entertainment.......

  • Re:NY Times? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Salgak1 (20136) <salgak&speakeasy,net> on Thursday January 02, 2014 @11:57AM (#45846193) Homepage
    The real question is, what incentive is there for Obama to do so ?? It would require him to pretty much throw his entire National Security team under the bus.
  • by Wootery (1087023) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @12:15PM (#45846379)

    Great job normalising and trivialising government failure. If only everyone embraced it like you.

  • by serviscope_minor (664417) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @12:17PM (#45846401) Journal

    I don't. He constantly tries to blur the lines between illegal and immoral. If you argue morality, he'll argue back about the law. He of course does not respond well when pointed out perfectly good examples of why morality and legality are not the same.

    I don't mind well worded contrary opinions (I like roman_mir, for example even if I disagreewith most of his conclusioins), but not Cold Fjord since I think he is intellectually dishonest.

  • Re:NY Times? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by X0563511 (793323) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @12:29PM (#45846529) Homepage Journal

    A fate they quite arguably deserve.

    He should do it because it's the right thing to do, there should not be any need for more incentive than that.

  • by Karmashock (2415832) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @01:03PM (#45846917)

    As to the deterrent... for what? Is this something you want to deter?

    To the contrary, I want to encourage this sort of behavior.

    Understand, I make a distinction between treason and whistle blowing. This is whistle blowing.

    If the police department starts raping women in the jail cells and then covering it up... do you want to deter people that try to inform the public of it?

    Yes. The relationship is valid. The NSA has been wantonly breaking the law on a vast scale. And what is more the judicial branch is enabling it. Does the rape become more valid if the judge is okay with it? No. Its actually worse and worthy of increasingly outrage until the issue is resolved.

    As to leaks, leaks are almost never punished. The white house, congress, the pentagon, the CIA all leak things all the time that they're not supposed to leak. There was a big flap lately about the CIA leaking things about seal team 6. The leak was ultimately traced to the white house. Anyone go to jail for that? Nope. So what you're doing is not punishing leakers. Leakers don't get punished. What you're doing is punishing a whistle blower. The guy that calls RAPE. You want that silenced.

    Sound like a good idea? I don't see how it could be anything but an encouragement for FURTHER corruption.

    As to the interest of the NSA versus the people. I think you're confused here... the NSA works for us. Where our interests conflict we take precedence without exception. If the NSA is under any illusions on that issue then why are we paying them with our tax dollars and why are we giving them special extra legal authorities? If they want to go rogue that's fine. They can see how far they get with no money and no extra legal rights. They'd be a non-entity in a week.

    So no. They have no conflicting interests that I need to respect. If anything, the public has an interest in treating what interests they have outside of their duty with utter contempt.

  • Re:Incentive? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NoOneInParticular (221808) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @02:56PM (#45848333)
    It's actually an interesting point you bring up. With the rendition practices where people are either tortured directly by the CIA overseas or are being handed over to 'friendly' torturers, legally approved water-boarding torture in the US, and who knows what else goes on, the CIA runs the direct risk of what the secret policy in the soviet era has undergone. When the job requirements are such that only thugs like it, only thugs will apply.

    I'm pretty sure that this last decade, the CIA has gone through a transformation where people capable of doing actual intelligence work have left the bureau, and mostly people that know how to 'extract' info from others remain. Unfortunately, such info is typically useless, making the CIA just another device for oppression of brown people worshiping the wrong god, as intelligence they will not gather anymore.

  • Re:Incentive? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by deconfliction (3458895) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @03:29PM (#45848723)

    The moment the US government starts harming families is the moment I declare war and cap some asses.

    “The females that we had, were the spouses or sister or cousin of high value detainees, that were being used as - ‘well O.K., we have your sister, we have your wife, you know you need to turn yourself in’. The same thing with the little children. I mean we had like nine year olds in there. I’m like why do I have a nine year old in a prison – that’s crazy - but yeah that’s what was there.”

    - Javal Davis,
    372nd Military Police Company,
    Abu Ghraib 2003-2004,
    “Ghosts of Abu Ghraib – HBO Documentary”

He keeps differentiating, flying off on a tangent.