Edward Snowden will likely be remembered long after 99 percent of No Such Agency (NSA) leaders and defenders are forgotten.
A clean-cut geek risked his freedom to protect our privacy rights. More than 10 folk songs have already been written about Edward Snowden, including: “You Can’t Slip a Chip into My Brain, NSA” by Grant William Brad Gerver, and “Hello, NSA” by Roy Zimmerman. “I know you’ll take my call, because you care enough to take them all…NSA, listen please while I order extra cheese.”
Definitely a book, perhaps a movie, but surely a documentary. Children will long to emulate Edward Snowden.
Yet, we must ask: Will Edward Snowden be pardoned, jailed or, as former CIA director James Woolsey recommends, “hanged by his neck until he is dead.”
On the first day of the New Year, both the New York Times Editorial Board and The Guardian called for clemency or a plea pardon. Perhaps the even the Washington Post will follow.
For all his background in constitutional law and human rights, Mr Obama has shown little patience for whistleblowers: his administration has used the Espionage Act against leakers of classified information far more than any of his predecessors. It is difficult to imagine Mr Obama giving Mr Snowden the pardon he deserves. There has been some talk of an amnesty – with NSA officials reportedly prepared to consider a deal allowing Mr Snowden to return to the US in exchange for any documents to which he may still have access. The former head of MI5, Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller recently predicted such an outcome, though Mr Obama’s own security adviser, Susan Rice, thought he didn’t “deserve” it. A former CIA director, James Woolsey, suggested he “should be hanged by his neck until he is dead”. – Guardian Editorial
“In retrospect, Mr. 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. 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.” New York Times Editorial Board
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