The Case Against Clemency for Snowden

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

A portrait of Edward Snowden declaring him a 'hero' is seen during a protest against government surveillance on October 26, 2013 in Washington, DC. A portrait of Edward Snowden declaring him a 'hero' is seen during a protest against government surveillance on October 26, 2013 in Washington, DC. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty)

Fred Kaplan, Slate's War Stories columnist, author of The Insurgents, and the Edward R. Murrow press fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations discusses his recent Slate piece, "Why Snowden Won't (and Shouldn't) Get Clemency."




Fred Kaplan

Comments [42]

DTorres from Manhattan

Given that our government has the technological ability to spy on a
broad range of countries, individuals, it is inevitable that they will
continue to do so.

Why would they stop?
I have an Iphone, that tracks where I go.
It's the age we are living in.
IMO, I don't care if that the NSA is spying on everything we do.
I just came back from the Humane Society, my cat is sick, on the M15
bus, there were cameras on the bus. I passed by a demonstration on 59th
st and 2nd avenue. Checked the flag on my Iphone, it was the Egyptian flag.

Edward Snowden didn't alert the U.S. authorities about what he thought
was wrong, he gave the Chinese and Russians, our enemies, the heads up.

Snowden also passed the U.S. Classified files that he stole to
Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, who are now hooking up with
Pierre of Paypal and profiting from this information.

I think that Snowden, Poitras and Greenwald, should be reined in
by our government by any means necessary.

Even if Snowden's original intention was honorable, he made a mess of it.
Greenwald and Poitras are just cashing in at the expense of
the United States Classified secrets.

What country does not have classified secrets?

Jan. 08 2014 04:21 PM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretenious Hudson Heights

Ms. Bad,

> Yup, Saddam HAD WMD's, we sold them to him so he could kill Iranians

Right. That's why your Saddam showed all those reporters the shipping manifests, let reporters from international media see the weapons stores of his WMD stockpiles.

Warring Sunni .vs. Shiites is a long history. Something to do about a family feud over who was Mo's successor.

Your Islamic Regime of Iran used children with "plastic keys to heaven" to clear minefields after the war.

> he destroyed them

LOL! socialist logic in all its glory.

> Trying to pull the same thing in Syria? Priceless.

Trying? Tell that to the 1,000+ dead from sarin.

> Qaddafi once had a nuclear program, gave it up, now dead,

Win. Win.

Funny that the US showed more sensitivity to the remains of your osama bin laden than fellow Arabs did to Billy Carters pal Qaddafi.

Jan. 08 2014 11:02 AM
Estelle from Brooklyn

Two comments--

When talking about Civil Disobedience, please mention Henry David Thoreau who coined the phrase and acted on it by going to jail for refusing to pay taxes to a government fighting an illegitimate war, to wit, the Spanish-American War.

When G. W. Bush wanted to go to war in Afghanistan and then Iraq, I wanted to send him a copy of David Fromkin's book, "A Peace to End All Peace, The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East." Anyone reading that book would find a grand blueprint of what not to do in the Middle East.

Jan. 08 2014 10:52 AM
Mr. Bad from NYC

@ Seth

Edward pretty much only has one argument, the straw man kind, not that he understands what that means.

Jan. 08 2014 10:52 AM

Mr. Bad from NYC

Don't bother wasting the keystrokes.

Jan. 08 2014 10:52 AM

Seth ~

It's not just "just wrong", it's typically moronic.

…really?? Another Wikipedia attribution???

"The open nature of Wikipedia has caused concerns about its writing,[18][19] the amount of vandalism,[20][21] and the accuracy of information. Some articles contain unverified or inconsistent information…"

Wikipedia ~

Jan. 08 2014 10:49 AM
Mr. Bad from NYC

@ Edward from Bellevue Psychiatric Ward #12

Yup, Saddam HAD WMD's, we sold them to him so he could kill Iranians, he destroyed them and then we invaded because he had them once? JIDF logic in all its glory. Trying to pull the same thing in Syria? Priceless. Qaddafi once had a nuclear program, gave it up, now dead, NATO backed uprising got'em. Message to countries opposed to US imperialism: GET WMD's ASAP and never give'em up, Armageddon here we come!

Jan. 08 2014 10:49 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretenious Hudson Heights

Wrong Seth,

The claims that Saddaam never had WMDs is FALSE.


He clearly DID in 1988, the same year that Pan Am 103 was bombed.

Jan. 08 2014 10:49 AM

Edward, the point is not if Saddam ever had wmd's. It's that he did not have them after the Kuwait decable. You're stretching the facts to make your point, and that's just wrong.

Jan. 08 2014 10:43 AM
Lenore from Manhattan

Bravo for Edward Snowden! Like the 1971 burglars of the FBI files which we are now learning about, only these actions could prove that the government was up to no good.

He should get clemency, but not return to the US for a few decades, for his own safety.

Jan. 08 2014 10:40 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretenious Hudson Heights

Any fool who claims that Saddam Huseeins Iraq never had WMDs, ask the Kurds of Halabja if Sadaam ever had WMDs.


And poison gas, a WMD, was used in the Assad family dictatorship of Syria.
1,000+ died.

Jan. 08 2014 10:40 AM

Bobby G from East Village - spot on!

Jan. 08 2014 10:38 AM

your guest is happily sliding down a very slippery slope with his equivocations.

apologist for power

Jan. 08 2014 10:36 AM

Where is the "discipline" for the assorted CIA torturers and administration liars?

Jan. 08 2014 10:35 AM
Bobby G from East Village

When will the perpetrators and cheerleaders for "the greatest miscalculation in American history," the invasion of Iraq, -- George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfawitz, Kenneth Pollack and all the other idealogical idiots -- be held accountable for the mess they made. What a horror!

Jan. 08 2014 10:35 AM
Juan from Manhattan

He is stuck in Russia or China because of extradition treaties! If he went anywhere else the long arm of the US govt would get him immediately. Some of these talking heads are either dumb or disingenuous.

Jan. 08 2014 10:35 AM

This guest is a horse laugh

Jan. 08 2014 10:34 AM

Snowden has done us all a favor despite his narcissism.

FAR more relevant than Assange.

Jan. 08 2014 10:33 AM

It would be nice to have the other side of the story rather than this propagandist

Jan. 08 2014 10:33 AM

He didn't "flee" to Russia, he got stuck in Russia because the US took his passport.

He probably started in Hong Kong because he was trying to find a country which wasn't under the thumb of the US.

Ellsberg has approved of Snowden's actions, so those who praise him by comparison should stop throwing his name around.

Jan. 08 2014 10:33 AM
b from snoozeville

snowdens actions regardless of your guests opinion do more for the greater good than any harm he has caused.

what he has exposed is wildly illegal.

your guest is making excuses for massive government wrong doing

Jan. 08 2014 10:32 AM
Laura from Harlem

fred kaplan that propaganda minister here? what is happening to wnyc? sounds like the NYPOST on radio now.

Jan. 08 2014 10:32 AM

God love Ed Snowden! He has done the US and the world a great service.

Jan. 08 2014 10:31 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretenious Hudson Heights

lynne stewart should be back in prison.

Jan. 08 2014 10:30 AM

Let's remember that in the run-up to the Iraq war, millions of people around the world marched in protest against the attack.

I'm sorry that people feel their sacrifice was in vain, and I'm not saying "I told you so," but let's put the blame where it belongs...not at the feet of the American people for wanting to forget the war, but at the feet of Bush and his cronies for starting the war.

Jan. 08 2014 10:29 AM
Louis from nyc

Kerry reportedly says he will consider freeing Jonathan Pollard as part of prisoner swap.

Jan. 08 2014 10:29 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretenious Hudson Heights

Get the CIA or the US Navy Seals to bring Snowden to justice.

Jan. 08 2014 10:28 AM
Mike from Brooklyn

"In reality, none of that information [about intent and potential/actual harm] would be heard by a jury, if prior Espionage Act cases against leakers are any guide. Judges have ruled evidence of showing intent to inform the public, benefits of the leaks, and lack of damage to national security is inadmissible."


Jan. 08 2014 10:28 AM
Nick from UWS

Chuck Schumer, you complete horse's ass. Why? Why should Snowden "face the consequences"? It's Clapper who should face the consequences. It's the the criminals of the US Government who should face consequences. Why should Snowden be punished for anything?

Jan. 08 2014 10:27 AM

Schumer should be in prison.

Jan. 08 2014 10:27 AM
Seth Peckstiff

Snowden should be praised and thrown in jail. These two action are not mutually exclusive. Let him pay the price, and we can honor him later for exposing a government out of control.

Jan. 08 2014 10:24 AM

What is the formal process for labeling someone a war criminal?

Jan. 08 2014 10:24 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretenious Hudson Heights

I laugh that Snowden found sanctuary in KGB Putins Russia.

What would happen to Comrade Snowden if he pulled the same stunt to KGB Putins Russia?

Remember this guy?

Jan. 08 2014 10:23 AM
Nick from UWS

They didn't die in vain. They died by choice. Throughout the entire vile episode, there was not one single soldier drafted. Maybe the lesson here is that people should start using their brain before volunteering to participate in evil.

Jan. 08 2014 10:22 AM

Obama and Bush both wanted to keep troops in Iraq.

Jan. 08 2014 10:18 AM
lcruz from brooklyn

so, disclosing foreign targeted surveillance info is also ok ?, i understand the argument for the domestic disclosures, but foreign, is a valid argument for not granting clemency.

Jan. 08 2014 10:16 AM
RUCB_Alum from Central New Jersey

@John from Office

Snowden's actions made clear the excesses -- Yes, there are excesses...extents to which the Patriot Act has been itself abused by the NSA. The knowledge of the abuses gives our lawmakers time and space to rein in this agency before it goes rogue and BEFORE an evil person misuses this collected data to hurt the nation's citizens. There is some evidence that the NSA has used metadata to provide 'tips' to other law enforcement agencies on persons to follow for drugs and other offenses. That would be a pretty clear violation of the Fourth Amendment, if it has occurred.

However, some of what Snowden has revealed has compromised US 'sources and uses' and clearly violates his employment agreement with the NSA. He should be punished. Shot as a traitor? Nope. Rot in prison? Nope. Do some time? You betcha!

Jan. 08 2014 10:16 AM
b from yawn

wow the crazy commenters are up and at em

Snowden ought to be pardoned and lionized

sacrifice freedom for security you deserve neither.

there is no proof that these illegal spying tactics have helped anyone.

not to mention the number of people that die in a terrorist attacks in USA is a tiny number compared to other mortality factors

Jan. 08 2014 10:12 AM

"when the next attack happens, you and your "kind" will be the first to ask why we were not prepared. Just like it happened after 911."

Actually after 9.11, his "kind" mainly asked:
1. why on earth did Giuliani put a 10K tank of emergency fuel (his emergency bunker) in the same building that had been attacked by terrorists just 8 years prior?
2. The killers are by definition dead -- will spending the US's entire treasury on "Preventing Another 9.11"™ be the best use of american minds and treasure, in the face of climate change, rapid globalism and the massive amount of international goodwill that Clinton had built up on our behalf? Wouldn't such a witch hunt just create more terrorists? Why aren't we stopping to compare and debate risks and rewards?

This is what people were saying then -- even on this show.

Jan. 08 2014 09:47 AM
john from office

Sheldon, when the next attack happens, you and your "kind" will be the first to ask why we were not prepared. Just like it happened after 911.

Snowden, Greenwald, Manning and the other self appointed saviors are a national danger and must be eliminated.

Jan. 08 2014 08:46 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

No respect for the rule of law or the constitution. Hail hail to illegality John.

Jan. 08 2014 08:15 AM
john from office

Snowden should never sleep at ease. He should be hunted for the rest of his life. He, like Private Manning, betrayed their nation. Manning will rot in jail as a woman, dying from a lack of drama and attention and Snowden will never rest anywhere on this planet. His actions hurt this nation, my nation and he should die for that. His actions amount to treason. He is no hero.

Jan. 08 2014 07:23 AM

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