The New York Times is kicking off 2014 by demanding clemency or a plea deal for Edward Snowden.
“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.”
That’s from an editorial published Wednesday.
In the same piece, the Times points out that President Obama was plainly wrong when he said Snowden could have blown the whistle internally without breaking the law, because of Obama’s own executive order:
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.
Although often ridiculed by the right as a left-wing outfit, The New York Times is the establishment paper of all establishment papers, and its editorials carry weight in Washington, if not elsewhere. Snowden is running out the clock on his one-year asylum in Russia and looking for somewhere safe to go. How appropriate if that place could be the United States, land of the free, home of the brave.
—Posted by Peter Z. Scheer
AP/Jose Luis Magana
Demonstrators hold up banners with photos of Edward Snowden during a protest outside of the Capitol in Washington, D.C.