@Snowden: Give That Man a Medal, Not a “Pardon”

Edward Snowden 2013-10-9 (image by Wikipedia (commons.wikimedia.org))
Edward Snowden 2013-10-9
(image by Wikipedia (commons.wikimedia.org))

by Thomas L. Knapp…….

In the days leading up to the official premiere of Snowden, Oliver Stone’s eponymous biopic of America’s exiled whistleblower, an international movement came together to pressure US president Barack Obama for a pardon. Executive absolution would make it possible for Edward Snowden to return from Russia without facing a show trial and a life (or even death) sentence for his heroism.

It’s a fine idea. I support it. But I think it does get things backward and sends the wrong message in certain respects.

Edward Snowden shouldn’t NEED a pardon. He performed a public service of inestimable value by exposing the crimes, the criminals, and the techniques of the largest espionage ring in human history: A conspiracy directed at the very public expected to pay the gigantic tab the conspirators run up. The National Security Agency’s budget is classified — of course — but thought to be in excess of $10 billion per year. Talk about adding insult to injury.

So, who SHOULD be seeking pardons?

Well, the operational ringleaders, including but not limited to the last few directors of the NSA, are clearly habitual felons who, in any society with a functioning justice system, would be sporting leg irons and orange coveralls and writing their own letters requesting clemency about now.

Those evildoers have superiors who are equally responsible for having let them run wild. The two that come to mind are the president(s) and the congressional Intelligence Committees (the House Intelligence Committee contests the pardon movement with a classified — of course — report which in public summary characterizes Snowden as a mere “disgruntled employee”).

If these characters weren’t (with good reason) convinced of their own immunity to justice, they’d be shutting down their unprecedented warrantless search operations and finding ways to preemptively pardon each other ahead of something like a new Nuremburg Tribunal, instead of continuing to denigrate and persecute the man who exposed their vile deeds.

The only subject of truly legitimate debate over Snowden’s actions is whether they were military or civilian in character. Otherwise, how are we to know whether he should receive the Medal of Honor (military) or the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal (civilian)?

Perhaps an exception should be made that lets him collect all three. Or perhaps none of them are sufficient and a new award, specific to Snowden and those who will hopefully follow in his footsteps, would be more appropriate.


Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

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4 thoughts on “@Snowden: Give That Man a Medal, Not a “Pardon”

  1. I know in the past I have been part of a minority in thinking Snowden is a hero by bringing to light the Hitler like tactics of the NSA. To tell lies upon lies to the US citizens and then justify them because of national security can only work for so long. Snowden is a whistleblower and is suppose to be protected by the Federal government.

  2. I completely agree. We criminalize our constitutional heroes and give presidential medals to the people who destroy our civil liberties and lie to congress. The people who direct the helicopter strikes that killed the Reuters reporters are not even reprimanded, and the one who reports the crime gets life.

  3. Back when what Snowden had done, even now I really can’t say for sure I know, but given whom all it infuriated, me thinks they protested way too much, I conclude Snowden hit a few or many nails squarely on the head, even if he was not, and is not, Snow White. I said and wrote back then, if I were President Obama, I would have offered Snowden a pardon for any and all perceived/alleged crimes he had committed, in exchange for him being my National Security Adviser for the remainder of my time in the White House, with Snowden being paid whatever he was being paid when he high-tailed it.

    What I don’t get is why the author of this epistle, Thomas Knapp, does not call for President Obama’s head, too. Do not the NSA and the CIA, and whatever other cloak and dagger outfits the American government funds, answer to President Obama? Is not therefore President Obama the chief prosecutor of Edward Snowden? Well?

    I hope in the upcoming president debates, the POTUS wannabes are each asked, if elected, will they will pardon Edward Snowden, yes or no, without any explanation. If any candidate answers anything other than yes or no, that candidate is disqualified from further participation in the debate and is escorted pronto off the scene, out of the building, by US Secret Service Agents, and not allowed to return.

  4. It’s called revelation of the method. Once you know of the offenses and do nothing about it you are doubly bound, doubly enslaved.

    At this point, Miley Cyrus could sacrifice a baby live on stage before the entire world and nothing would be done…the world would applaud and Americans would debate on whether or not she should run for POTUS.

    Sure, give Snowden a pardon…bfd.

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