Pardoning Snowden

Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump meet at the 2017 G-20 Hamburg Summit. Photo by

Common Dreams is among the oldest and most defining Progressive websites, a daily online newspaper that has been serving the hard left community since 1997. They are urging the President to pardon Edward Snowden.

Justin Amash is a Constitutionalist who refused to accept Trump’s direction for the Republican Party because it violated his oath, even though he knew it would likely end his political career. He is urging the President to pardon Edward Snowden.

The New York Times is often accused – with some validity – of being a Progressive paper, but it’s still accepted by centrist Democrats as their “paper of record” and they work hard to maintain that reputation (and thus their reader base). They have argued for Snowden’s pardon.

Many of President Trump’s most visible and vocal supporters ranging from pundits to elected officials like Matt Gaetz and Rand Paul have urged President Trump to pardon Snowden, and so has the man who came in second behind Joe Biden in the Democratic Presidential primary, Senator Bernie Sanders.

All of this is pressuring Trump to do something he’s already stated, repeatedly, toward which he is favorably inclined.

Let’s consider what Snowden has done. He was a whistleblower against government abuses… something that is often considered heroic. In this case, he exposed that prominent public officials in the Obama administration had lied about the existence of surveillance programs that had been monitoring the electronic communication of not simply foreign adversaries but American allies and our citizenry.

He took more than a million classified files from various intelligence agencies and fled the country, then provided selected files to reporters from the New York Times, Washington Post, the Guardian, and various other newspapers in the U.S. and allied countries. He then sought asylum in a country allied with the United States but had those requests denied, reportedly due to pressure from government officials including the former Vice President, now President Elect, Joe Biden. Faced with no alternatives, he accepted asylum in Russia where he has started a new life…. but not before destroying the files so as to avoid handing our enemies enough data to undermine our espionage and electronic security systems.

This is, in a nutshell, the argument for his pardon. I oppose that argument.

Snowden was not simply a low-level analyst; he was a patriot who had volunteered to serve his country in wartime and he was widely described by his associates as a brilliant computer expert. There can be no doubt that he was fully aware of the implications of what he was doing, or that he was operating from a position of incompetence.

When he released documents to the media, those documents provided not merely the existence of the surveillance programs which had been denied, but also details about military and intelligence assets. By doing so he immediately devalued those assets and exposed them to attack. As a former military member who had been in Special Forces training, he knew that exposing locations – much less specific personnel names or weaponry capacity – he may have been targeting our spies and military for death. Because he was a computer expert and had specifically chosen only some of the files for release it becomes unreasonable to suggest that any such exposure was unintentional.

While it is very likely that Snowden held back the most damaging files from the press, the question should not be whether he wreaked as much destruction as he could but rather whether he did enough to undermine the safety of the country and its defenders. I believe he reached that threshold, and is thus a traitor.

More, we have only Snowden’s word that he destroyed the files before being granted asylum by Russia. While it is certainly possible that Putin would have accepted those terms for the political coup of being seen to defend the cause of freedom more than the President Obama, it is also quite reasonable to suspect that Snowden had simply lied.

That interpretation of events would help explain why Russia was suddenly able to target American interests in ways that no other adversarial power was able to match, whether via what is suspected to be the use of microwave weaponry against low-level diplomats in the Cuban embassy (and subsequently embassies around the world) or psychological operations using companies with key connections to American officials.

Snowden was a whistleblower, and those who expose corruption within the American system deserve protection from retribution. But independent of the whistleblowing I believe he is a traitor, and he deserves no pardon for that.

About the opinions in this article…

Any opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this website or of the other authors/contributors who write for it.

About AlienMotives 1991 Articles
Ex-Navy Reactor Operator turned bookseller. Father of an amazing girl and husband to an amazing wife. Tired of willful political blindness, but never tired of politics. Hopeful for the future.