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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 The123king ( 2395060 ) on Monday January 27, 2014 @12:52PM (#46081553)
    but a pardon for his crimes, a pack of beers and a a badge that says "I stated the obvious"
  • At the very least... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DoofusOfDeath ( 636671 ) on Monday January 27, 2014 @12:52PM (#46081555)

    The Presidential Medal of Freedom [].

    Shoot, he deserves it 100x more than the FEMA directory to whom W. awarded it in response to Hurricane Katrina.

  • Pardon (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Stargoat ( 658863 ) <> on Monday January 27, 2014 @12:53PM (#46081569) Journal

    A Presidential Pardon, issued at 11:58 am on January 20, 2017.

    Seriously, Snowden's a hell of a guy and did a real good thing - they even recognize this by their claims for the need to limit the actions of the NSA. But the administration cannot condone his actions. Hence, a last minute presidential pardon is the only politically viable option.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 27, 2014 @01:01PM (#46081701)

    Scooter Libby got a pardon. Why can't Snowden?

  • Presidency? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Celtic Ferret ( 1336711 ) on Monday January 27, 2014 @01:04PM (#46081755)

    I wonder if Mr. Snowden, with an appropriate team of advisors, would have the skill required to lead the United States onto a moral path? I'm unaware of his management/administration qualifications, but he certainly has the high ground. The bug would certainly be in the "appropriate team of advisors" departments, and I'm afraid he'd end up like JFK.

  • Let us not forget... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jmd ( 14060 ) on Monday January 27, 2014 @01:04PM (#46081761)

    The other whistleblowers. Manning, Assange, Jeremy Hammond..etc etc.

    Whether or not you like their methods these people are effectively doing the same thing. Uncovering and making known actions of the US (and other gov'ts) that are in direct conflict with humanity and the exisiting legal framework.

  • by i_want_you_to_throw_ ( 559379 ) on Monday January 27, 2014 @01:07PM (#46081805) Journal
    It's always the same: "What does Edward Snowden deserve?". How about "what should we do about NSA's over reach?". Lost in this discussion seems to be any kind of seriousness about reigning in NSA. At least in the 70s when the CIA was caught engineering coups they had to have congressional oversight placed upon them.
  • by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Monday January 27, 2014 @01:12PM (#46081859) Homepage

    If they're offering deals then I think they're worried about what else he knows.

    Maybe he's saving the good stuff 'til last.

  • Civil Vigilante (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SirLoper ( 827094 ) on Monday January 27, 2014 @01:14PM (#46081897)
    He did the right things, but in the wrong way. No matter his intentions or the results, both of which are good, it doesn't change the fact that he broke the law. My opinion on this would be to acknowledge that he broke several laws, including espionage and other serious offenses, but keep his punishment light (as in non-existent) an call it "time served" for whatever incarceration/detention is needed to get his case in front of a judge that agrees to rule like this. We need to be careful not to praise the acts only because the results were good. Certainly the current whistle-blower laws need heavy reform; they can take that into consideration when handing down sentencing.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 27, 2014 @01:16PM (#46081921)

    See, I have mixed feelings about this. For the revelation about the domestic spying I would classify him as a whistleblower and say full pardon, but then he went and divulged a bunch of information on foreign spying programs which makes me feel like he should be classed as a criminal.

    Spying on allies is a thin excuse for outrage on the part of the average US citizen. Everyone does this, we know it, but you're not supposed to get caught. However by divulging this external spying (which I fully expect the NSA to do) I feel he's actually crossed the line from whistleblower to criminal.

    Like I said, mixed feelings. In the end, I don't think a full pardon is warranted, but I think most of the major charges, especially all charges related to revealing the wiretapping scheme, should be dismissed.

    Also, a pardon is not really applicable here, as he has not been convicted of any crimes. He is technically still innocent under the eyes of the law, though I'm sure the government doesn't care.

  • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Monday January 27, 2014 @01:21PM (#46082019) Journal

    He deserves a ticker tape parade and to be listed among the great patriots who sacrificed personal safety and comfort in the name of liberty.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 27, 2014 @01:22PM (#46082031)

    The kind of idiot who makes deals with Eric Holder. That guy is so shady and such an inept lawyer; this offer does not surprise me in the slightest. Even a freshly minted law school graduate would tell Snowden not to take this deal. Expect nothing to come of this except more embarrassment and proof of Holder's incompetence.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 27, 2014 @01:23PM (#46082045)

    + financial compensation for his loss.

  • If I were Obama? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by The Archon V2.0 ( 782634 ) on Monday January 27, 2014 @01:52PM (#46082467)

    "If... you were Holder and Obama, what sort of deal would you try to strike with everybody's favorite secrets-leaker?"

    I'd offer him pardon on almost everything, leaving only a trivial (1-2 months) jail sentence left over. Then I'd have him murdered while he was in prison.

    The intelligence community is happy because I've sent a clear message of what happens to whistleblowers, and I can continue to play innocent and act pro-whistleblower as I have for ages, letting accusations of it being an assassination fade into conspiracy theory while most of my voting base continues to ignore the problem or is glad I got rid of another "terrorist lover". Seriously, what are the pro-privacy advocates going to do? Vote against me on this issue by voting for a Republican who wants to peek into their bedrooms to make sure there's no sinning going on? Ha!

    What? It's not what I personally want to see done, but then I'm not hypocritical, power-hungry, interest-beholden, and immoral enough to ever want to be President. If I were President, obviously that would not be the case.

  • by Taco Cowboy ( 5327 ) on Monday January 27, 2014 @01:53PM (#46082481) Journal

    Snowden's guilt (if you can call that) was to point out how NSA is guilty of violating the Constitution of the United States of America.

    And because NSA is part and parcel of the government of the United States of America, whatever crime that NSA has committed, the government of the United States must be the one liable.

    In other words, Snowden is a witness to a crime, and he opted to share the evidence of that crime to the world than to keep it a secret.

    If I were to use an analogy - Snowden witnessed and took video of a robbery carried out by a group of cops, and instead of turning the video evidence to the police (whom Snowden already know are baddies), he released that video online, and it went viral.

    Now the police are accusing Snowden guilty of releasing that "supposedly secret" video, but conveniently forgot to mention that very crime whereby a group of cops carried that robbery.

    That is why, before Snowden plead guilty of releasing that "secret video" (which imho Snowden is NOT guilty of anything, but that's beside the point), the cops have to answer for that robbery in the first place.

  • by cfulton ( 543949 ) on Monday January 27, 2014 @02:11PM (#46082719)
    Sorry but you are wrong. At least in the sense that because a person is guilty he must be sentenced to the prescribed penalty. People rarely say it, but a large part of trying someone before a jury of their peers is that they can be found innocent even though the actually perpetrated the crime. The south used to find this a nifty way to get away with lynching. But, it also happens all the time for good reasons. It may get you ire up to hear it but it is true. If Snowden were tried and I was on the jury I would vote for acquittal.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 27, 2014 @02:44PM (#46083191)

    Bush pardoned himself before any charges could be brought up against him. Why stops Obama from pardoning Snowden?

    We all know that Snowden [i]should[/i] be protected by the whisleblower protection act, but the government is weaseling its way around the law, as per usual. Funny, since he was working for the government, he is liable for espionage charges, but suddenly when it comes to whistleblower protection, he's "only a contractor, not an actual employee, so it doesn't apply to him." Talk about having your cake and eating it, too.

  • by emil ( 695 ) on Monday January 27, 2014 @03:00PM (#46083421)

    Pardoning Snowden for all past crimes and enabling his return would prevent the release of any further damaging documents. If Snowden remains within US jurisdiction, any new leaks of his material can lead prosecutors directly to him.

    Once the bleeding has stopped, the NSA and the Justice Department should together explain to the voting population the legal concept of "the fruit of the poison tree" [] - any intelligence gained by espionage should be inadmissible in court outside of direct, existential threats.

    All governments engage in espionage to some extent, and our goal should not be to remove our "poison garden" and blind ourselves, but to ensure that state secrets are not used as a weapon against the populace.

  • by davester666 ( 731373 ) on Monday January 27, 2014 @03:05PM (#46083505) Journal

    Don't forget, Obama claims that he has the legal authority to detain an American citizen, on American soil, and remove that person from the country, without notifying anyone [no lawyer, judge, relatives, the person is just gone], and hold them indefinitely without charge. He has to have this power to keep the country safe, but he promises not to use it.

  • by mspohr ( 589790 ) on Monday January 27, 2014 @03:07PM (#46083525)

    Thoreau speaks to this point:
    "[8] All men recognize the right of revolution; that is, the right to refuse allegiance to, and to resist, the government, when its tyranny or its inefficiency are great and unendurable. But almost all say that such is not the case now. But such was the case, they think, in the Revolution of '75.(10) If one were to tell me that this was a bad government because it taxed certain foreign commodities brought to its ports, it is most probable that I should not make an ado about it, for I can do without them. All machines have their friction; and possibly this does enough good to counterbalance the evil. At any rate, it is a great evil to make a stir about it. But when the friction comes to have its machine, and oppression and robbery are organized, I say, let us not have such a machine any longer. In other words, when a sixth of the population of a nation which has undertaken to be the refuge of liberty are slaves, and a whole country is unjustly overrun and conquered by a foreign army, and subjected to military law, I think that it is not too soon for honest men to rebel and revolutionize. What makes this duty the more urgent is the fact that the country so overrun is not our own, but ours is the invading army.(11)

    [9] Paley, a common authority with many on moral questions, in his chapter on the "Duty of Submission to Civil Government," resolves all civil obligation into expediency; and he proceeds to say that "so long as the interest of the whole society requires it, that is, so long as the established government cannot be resisted or changed without public inconveniency, it is the will of God that the established government be obeyed, and no longer" — "This principle being admitted, the justice of every particular case of resistance is reduced to a computation of the quantity of the danger and grievance on the one side, and of the probability and expense of redressing it on the other."(12) Of this, he says, every man shall judge for himself. But Paley appears never to have contemplated those cases to which the rule of expediency does not apply, in which a people, as well as an individual, must do justice, cost what it may. If I have unjustly wrested a plank from a drowning man, I must restore it to him though I drown myself.This, according to Paley, would be inconvenient. But he that would save his life, in such a case, shall lose it.(13) This people must cease to hold slaves, and to make war on Mexico, though it cost them their existence as a people. "

  • Difficult question (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mendax ( 114116 ) on Monday January 27, 2014 @03:26PM (#46083745)

    A pardon or prison? What to give?

    Edward Snowden's situation is most difficult to analyze. If all he did was reveal the NSA's surveillance on American citizens then I would say he deserves a full pardon and the awarding of the Medal of Freedom from the president. He did us as much of a service as Daniel Ellsberg did when he spilled the beans by giving the New York Times the Pentagon Papers [], demonstrating the Lyndon Johnson's administration systematically lied, not only to the public but also to Congress about the government's involvement in Vietnam.

    But he did more than that; he also revealed the legal and legitimate (if somewhat dodgy in some cases) spying on those in other countries, including Angela Merkel's cell phone conversations and the penetration by the NSA of the Chinese communications infrastructure. For that he deserves a long prison sentence.

  • by Fubari ( 196373 ) on Monday January 27, 2014 @03:33PM (#46083831)
    How about offering him a full pardon and offer to make him the NSA Director?

    and the job as CEO at Microsoft

    You evil evil bastard. Have you no compassion in your soul?

  • by danheskett ( 178529 ) <> on Monday January 27, 2014 @03:59PM (#46084121)

    Do I get a free pass for my crime because I exposed a more despicable crime? Does my neighbor get charged despite the evidence being obtained illegally?

    1. Yes, you would almost certainly get a free pass. For one, because presumably you are an otherwise law abiding person. And guess what, even in the US today, a law abiding person who goes rogue and breaks a law that involves only property damage or a breach of peace is almost always given a slap on the wrist or a no-prosecution.

    2. Second, yes, your neighbor gets charged. That evidence was not illegally obtained by the police. They had probable cause (namely, you saw it) to believe it existed, so they obtained a warrant and executed a search.

    A better example is:

    "My neighbor asked me to come over and help fix his PC. Before he let me in the door he made my promise I wouldn't tell anyone what I saw. When I came in and saw his PC, it will filled with child porn. I called the police but they told me that I can't report it is a crime because it's a secret. So I took out a newspaper ad letting people know that my neighbor is a bad guy and is breaking the law. Since he's really big and has a lot of guns, I was afraid to go home, so I had to move half-way around the world to protect myself from being shot in the middle of the night."

    That would be the appropriate parallel.

  • by aminorex ( 141494 ) on Monday January 27, 2014 @04:15PM (#46084357) Homepage Journal

    I propose a Presidential Medal of Freedom, and endorsement for the Nobel Peace Prize.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 27, 2014 @04:19PM (#46084409)

    The civil rights protesters typically went to jail. That was part of their protest - to show how the government was persecuting them. But Snowden didn't stick around to "face the music". He scurried away to relative safety abroad, which just demonstrates that his motivation was probably more about feeding his narcissism and seeking fame (ie, sleeping with supermodels) that in achieving social justice. Imagine what history's judgment of Martin Luther King Jr would have been if, after the March on Selma, King hightailed it out of the country pleading "Hide me! Hide me!" to dubious powers abroad. Instead, King stood his ground and served jail time. Snowden did a useful thing, but he's a self-centered coward. Let him rot in Putinland.

  • by HeckRuler ( 1369601 ) on Monday January 27, 2014 @04:30PM (#46084563)

    There's a group of congressmen out for James Clapper's blood. He lied to congress. Under oath. That's perjury. [] They're all republican too. Which means I'm a little disappointed in the democrats.

  • by NoImNotNineVolt ( 832851 ) on Monday January 27, 2014 @08:11PM (#46086833) Homepage
    Yes, I can see how the continued barbaric imprisonment of Chelsea Manning has resulted in an outraged public, an increase in transparency, a new era of accountability in the armed forces, and a change in legislation.

    The things you say are all true, but they're also apparently no longer applicable or effective in today's society.

Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.