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Ask Slashdot: What Does Edward Snowden Deserve? 822

Nerval's Lobster writes "U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder made government whistleblower Edward Snowden a very peculiar offer last week: plead guilty, and the U.S. government would consider how to handle his criminal case. That seems an inverted way of doing things—in the United States, the discussions (if not the trial) usually come before the guilty plea—but Holder's statement hints yet again at the conundrum facing the government when it comes to Snowden, a former subcontractor for the National Security Agency (NSA) who leaked secrets about that group's intelligence operations to a number of newspapers, most notably The Guardian. It's unlikely that the U.S. government would ever consider giving full clemency to Snowden, but now it seems that various officials are willing to offer something other than locking him in a deep, dark cell and throwing away the key. If Snowden ever risked coming back to the United States (or if he was forced to return, thanks to the Russians kicking him out and no other country willing to give him asylum), and you were Holder and Obama, what sort of deal would you try to strike with everybody's favorite secrets-leaker?"
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Ask Slashdot: What Does Edward Snowden Deserve?

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  • by RailGunner ( 554645 ) * on Monday January 27, 2014 @12:59PM (#46081661) Journal
    More popular then you think. Mr. Snowden is a whistleblower who pointed out that the NSA was breaking the law.

    Full pardon.
  • by pixelpusher220 ( 529617 ) on Monday January 27, 2014 @01:04PM (#46081763)
    Actually he wasn't pardoned. His sentence was commuted but he was never pardoned. He's still guilty.
  • by FilmedInNoir ( 1392323 ) on Monday January 27, 2014 @01:13PM (#46081881)
    Oliver North got a light sentence and than the ACLU helped clear him of even that.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 27, 2014 @01:33PM (#46082179)
    I'm no fan of Nancy Pelosi but I believe she was referring to the fact that the House and Senate much each pass their versions of a bill before reconciliation and a final vote. If one body of congress has passed a bill and the other has not, it is true that you won't know what may be in the final bill. She's a life long politician and should've known better than to say something like that. I'm sure to her, the difference between bills and laws is evident but she should've known the general population wouldn't construe it that way.
  • by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Monday January 27, 2014 @01:33PM (#46082185)

    I'm glad we know what he told us. But you can't not prosecute people who undoubtedly did commit crimes because you agree with their stated motives.

    Sure you can, if you gloss over the legal issue of whether you can even know whether someone "undoubtedly did" commit a crime until as a minimum you have followed due process and tried their case before a competent court.

    For one thing, the US government is demonstrably willing and able to grant retrospective immunity to parties who have probably broken the law if it wishes to do so. There are well-documented examples related to the same kind of surveillance issues Snowden raised, they were just applied to parties on the other side of the debate.

    For another thing, if you're talking about issues on a scale of how government works, alleged abuse of power, and failure to apply your nation's constitutional provisions, appealing to "they broke the law" makes only a limited amount of sense. When only one side has any say in making the law or how that law is enforced in practice, it's hardly going to lead to a rational, reasoned debate and ultimately to constructive change. One man's terrorist/freedom fighter is another man's freedom fighter/terrorist, history is written by the victors, and all that.

  • by khelms ( 772692 ) on Monday January 27, 2014 @01:48PM (#46082385)
    I believe torture is against international laws that we have agreed to follow, but I haven't seen anyone charged with crimes for black prisons, extraordinary renditions, and torture.
  • by Mabhatter ( 126906 ) on Monday January 27, 2014 @01:52PM (#46082455)

    But you cannot be pardoned until THE LAW has its way.

    This entire case is about THE LAW. The NSA broke laws. Snowden broke laws back to tell the public about them.

    At this point, you don't ask him to "apologize" and take some licks. The EXECUTIVE BRANCH screwed up... THEY don't get to fix it.

    The proper course of action is to arrest him and for the DoJ to press what they got. Then the COURTS will look at EVIDENCE and decide if he qualifies for Whistleblower status. And the COURTS will decide what charges stick. And the COURTS will tell the Executive to pound sand.

    Then the EVIDENCE will be legally on the books. Then a solid precedent will be set for reporting these types of crimes. THAT'S how FREEDOM works.

    After ALL THAT, we can talk about pardons. Right now Snowden is not "wanted" for any listed CRIMES. So he cannot be "pardoned" for anything!

  • by mspohr ( 589790 ) on Monday January 27, 2014 @02:00PM (#46082563)

    Snowden has repeatedly stated that he gave everything he has to the journalists and he no longer has the material.
    The journalists (Greenwald, Guardian, etc.) are in control of the material and they decide what to release and when.
    So... I don't think he has any leverage to release or not release any information.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 27, 2014 @02:02PM (#46082601)
    Capricious application of the law is a prime signifier of a corrupt system.
  • by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Monday January 27, 2014 @02:30PM (#46082987) Journal

    Then the COURTS will look at EVIDENCE and decide if he qualifies for Whistleblower status.

    Snowden and others have already talked about this at length.
    The law does not allow for him (a contractor) to be a whistleblower.
    If Snowden goes before a court, he'll be prosecuted under the Espionage Act,
    most of the evidence against him will be classified, and he'll be convicted in a fairly open and shut case.

    And the COURTS will tell the Executive to pound sand.

    That's a wonderful scenario, but extremely unlikely.
    The courts will follow the law, which leaves no room for Snowden to be found innocent.

    Right now Snowden is not "wanted" for any listed CRIMES. []

    Snowden was charged with theft, "unauthorized communication of national defense information" and "willful communication of classified communications intelligence information to an unauthorized person," according to the complaint. The last two charges were brought under the 1917 Espionage Act.

    Your post needs less CAPS and more facts.

  • by UnknownSoldier ( 67820 ) on Monday January 27, 2014 @02:36PM (#46083063)

    The government is breaking the law, and continues to act illegally.
    A civilian breaks the law (oh how convenient) to expose the illegal activities.
    Why is the civilian prosecuted and the original offender let off scott free??
    Why again are we also not trying and sentencing the government officials who broke the law in the first place??

    You seem to be misunderstanding "Civil Disobedience". Here is a refresher course: []

  • by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Monday January 27, 2014 @02:56PM (#46083361)

    "Snowden has repeatedly stated that he gave everything he has to the journalists and he no longer has the material."

    Unless I am mistaken, he has also repeatedly stated that he has many more documents he has been holding back "for insurance".

    It is possible I got mixed up, and he turned over that "insurance" in his last batch of revelations, but I thought not.

  • by mspohr ( 589790 ) on Monday January 27, 2014 @03:10PM (#46083555)

    I think you are confused on this point. He has made it clear numerous times that he does not have control of any of the documents. He has also explicitly stated that he is not holding back anything for "insurance" since that would be an invitation to others to kill him to reveal these documents.
    Hard to prove one way or another here so you just have to take his word on this (or not).

  • by AthanasiusKircher ( 1333179 ) on Monday January 27, 2014 @05:49PM (#46085533)

    What snowden did was a form of civil disobedience. What about the civil rights activists who committed "crimes" aka peaceful protests and other non violent forms of civil disobedience in order to repeal or change said laws?

    Umm, most of them went to jail. That was usually an explicit part of the protest. Take some time and read Martin Luther King's Letter from Birmingham Jail sometime, for example. He explicitly discusses how a major point of protest an unjust law is to practice civil disobedience, but then be prepared to accept the consequences. The point of non-violent civil disobedience in many cases was to change the laws by showing how their enforcement resulted in injustice -- not to avoid prosecution.

    And take a look at Ghandi -- in many cases, the idea was to protest in a non-violent manner by continuing to do something that you should be able to do, but let the British soldiers beat you -- accept your punishment, so that the British citizens themselves might become outraged at what their "law enforcement" was doing, and thus the laws might be changed.

    Like many people today, I don't think you understand what non-violent action really was about, nor the cost you were expected to bear. Since the time of Ghandi and MLK, many governments have realized that beating the crap out of people who won't fight back (or who just accept being taken to prison) just ends up offending other people and ultimately overturning the laws. Law enforcement nowadays practices intimidation, but it avoids riling up the population too much with overt oppressive actions. Thus, fewer protestors are spurred to do the kinds of things that would result in arrest (or even beatings, etc.)... and thus the public is less outraged.

    I'm not saying that this applies at all to Snowden. His actions were less about breaking unjust laws (after all, most people can probably agree that there are in fact intelligence secrets that should not be broadcast on the news, and it probably would be a bad thing if random people in intelligence just started exposing this information for no reason at all -- so those laws have some purpose). It was more about exposing the unjust practices of others within the government and things that had been inappropriately kept from the public.

    In essence, the Snowden case is nothing like classic "civil disobedience" and peaceful protests. I'm not arguing that he should go to prison -- but if he were practicing actual classic civil disobedience, he should probably have been prepared to. Forcing the government to put you in jail or even beat the crap out of you was often a deliberate part of classic "civil disobedience" and "peaceful protest."

  • by NoImNotNineVolt ( 832851 ) on Monday January 27, 2014 @09:42PM (#46087459) Homepage
    Hi cold fjord! I'm honored to have you respond to me directly. Your reputation precedes you.

    Now, are you suggesting that the "Collateral Murder" video that Manning leaked didn't challenge real injustices opposed by society? I'll remind you:

    The video showed an American helicopter firing on a group of men in Baghdad, one of them a journalist, and two other Reuters employees carrying cameras that the pilots mistook for anti-tank grenade launchers (RPG-7). The helicopter also fired on a van that had stopped to help the injured members of the first group; two children in the van were wounded and their father was killed.


    I'm of the opinion that the actions depicted in this video are generally considered to be real injustices, and are indisputably opposed by society.

    But let's not forget my allegation of barbarism, which you contest. Manning has consistently protested the conditions she is being held in, categorizing them as pre-trial punishment. For roughly one year, Manning was subject to either suicide watch or prevention of injury status. Juan E. Mendez, a United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture, published a report saying the detention conditions had been "cruel, inhuman and degrading." In early April 2011, 295 academics (most of them American legal scholars) signed a letter arguing that the treatment was a violation of the United States Constitution.

    So that's the basis for my claim of barbarism. Do you have anything to back your claim that Manning's imprisonment is "hardly barbaric", beyond the fact that most of these issues were eventually resolved?

The only possible interpretation of any research whatever in the `social sciences' is: some do, some don't. -- Ernest Rutherford