Edward Snowden participated in an on-line blog on Jan. 23, 2014. One of the topics that was discussed was whether Snowden could return to the US. The discussion questions were submitted on Twitter. Snowden stated that he preferred to return to the US, but he could not get a fair trial there regarding the federal charges of espionage. He will either remain in Russia or search for asylum in another country.
In an interview done on Jan. 23, 2014 conducted by Peter Williams and Michael O’Brien on MSNBC, Attorney General Eric Holder said the U.S. “would engage in conversation” about a resolution with Edward Snowden if the former government contractor accepted responsibility for leaking government secrets but said granting clemency "would be going too far."
The consensus of experienced lawyers is that Snowden would be unable to get a fair trial because of a nearly 100 year old Espionage Act that precludes acting in the public interest as a defense. In this case, Snowden acted in the public interest of US citizens and the law abiding citizens in the rest of the world.
Snowden may have saved the US even more damage in the future when our allies found that NSA, CIA and FBI operatives have been collecting private and personal information from high levels of government that have absolutely nothing to do with US security or the war on terror.
Snowden has declared he acted alone in collecting and revealing the information regarding US government surveillance of US citizens and of foreign government officials and private citizens.
“'I never stole any passwords, nor did I trick an army of co-workers to gain access to secret files detailing mass-surveillance programs.”
The declaration of a war gives the President of the United States great latitude in making executive decisions against an enemy. While the Constitution stipulates that the Senate must ratify all declarations of war, this has been ignored over an extended period of time.
In the events that followed the 911 attacks, President George W. Bush declared a war on terror, and Congress enacted the USA PATRIOT ACT. This led to the invasion of Iraq under known false pretenses that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. It also led to the war in Afghanistan based upon Osama bin Laden being a continuing threat to US security.
The real consequence of the Patriot Act has been fundamental disregard for major portions of the Bill of Rights and subsequent amendments to the Constitution. The 14th amendment has been particularly ignored for those suspected of terrorism, with no real proof required. Arab and Muslim men have been registered by the US government for no other reason than they are of Middle Eastern origin or heritage.
The US is in a spiritual crisis when it comes to trusting the government and its actions with regard to search and seizure, due process, and the right to a quick and fair trial. Many men are being held in Guantanamo because the US will not admit that they have no evidence that would stand up in court.
A lot of the gun control debate is the result of citizens distrusting the motives of government agencies in documenting which people have weapons. The recent interrogation of a man wearing Google glasses in a Columbus area movie theater by Homeland Security personnel demonstrates the need for concern, and reinforces the trust issues citizens have with government agencies.
Edward Snowden clearly violated his security agreement when he disclosed the extent of the spying that the US government was doing domestically and on a global basis. His disclosures were no surprise to any real terrorists. The terrorists know that every effort is being made to find their location and destroy them. It is fair enough that the US is trying to stop another major terrorist attack. It would be helpful if anti-terrorist operatives assumed innocence until some valid proof is offered of a person's intent to commit terrorist acts.
Benjamin Franklin had this to say about government intervention into basic freedoms of citizens.
“Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.”
If Snowden remains in Russia, he will continue to be under suspicion that he colluded with Russia prior to and during the disclosure of the US spying activities. This would make him guilty of espionage. The greater morally criminal acts were carried out by the US government under the Patriot Act against US citizens and around the world.
Edward Snowden should be given clemency, and those that authorized foreign surveillance of known allies and innocent private citizens in the US and around the world should be held accountable. Many have held that God protects the US because of the way we have upheld freedom and liberties. Those that believe that should be ducking now. We need to stop acting like terrorists and return to following the Constitution that has been a model for the rest of the world.