Friday, January 3, 2014

A Change of Heart On The Eric Snowden Matter...

On June 11, 2013, I wrote a column taking Eric Snowden to task for his releasing of sensitive information regarding the security and intelligence gathering methods of the United States.

From that column: (Boldface mine)

"As maddening as our government can be, as frustrating as our elected officials can be, no single citizen has the right to release classified documents, essentially to the world, to make a point. No business would put up with it, and no government can either. Snowden had options. Talk to his superiors, leave the position, file a report with the Inspector General for him to follow through, seek out his elected representative, etc. All, far better choices that going to the media, creating some level of hysteria and further alienating the people's government from the people." 

I don't disagree with what I wrote. However, after reading the New York Times op-ed from January 1st on what should happen to Snowden as well as an interesting column in the New York Times from yesterday's edition, I feel a need to amend and soften my position regarding Mr. Snowden.

One paragraph from each article weigh heavily with me:

"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."

And... (Boldface mine)“If the concern was that somehow this was the only way to get this information out to the public, I signed an executive order well before Mr. Snowden leaked this information that provided whistle-blower protection to the intelligence community for the first time,” Mr. Obama said at a news conference. “So there were other avenues available for somebody whose conscience was stirred and thought that they needed to question government actions.”
In fact, that executive order did not apply to contractors, only to intelligence employees, rendering its protections useless to Mr. Snowden. More important, Mr. Snowden told The Washington Post earlier this month that he did report his misgivings to two superiors at the agency, showing them the volume of data collected by the N.S.A., and that they took no action. (The N.S.A. says there is no evidence of this.) That’s almost certainly because the agency and its leaders don’t consider these collection programs to be an abuse and would never have acted on Mr. Snowden’s concerns."

I don't know what the correct outcome should be for Snowden. Given the list of revelations, (the Clapper thing isn't getting nearly the play in the press it should be...) perhaps we all should take a step back and reconsider what we know about this case and what a sensible resolution should be? I don't support him walking free, but a long jail sentence, treason charges, etc,. now seem to miss the mark we ought to be aiming for.


1 comment:

  1. Golly, I am not sure I completely agree. With indefinite detainment, and a clear violation of law that nobody in charge seemed to think was overboard... what more would government officials due, besides sending him to Guantanamo, or something 'outrageous' like that? I could definitely understand the fear. If you can't trust Government to follow the Constitution, then how can you trust them to follow through, or even not take it all out on you?

    Making the information public was not necessarily treason. Giving secrets to a single party might be considered treason. But exposing to the world.. and not for financial gain... is another thing entirely. Not so sure he should go to jail for a long time.