Over the weekend, President Trump floated the idea of pardoning National Security Agency whistleblower, Edward Snowden. Trump’s response is a bit of a surprise given how much Snowden is hated among the political establishment and GOP elite.
“I’m not that aware of the Snowden situation. But I’m going to start looking at it,” he said. “It seems to be a split decision. Many people… think that he should be somehow treated differently, and other people think he did very bad things. And I’m going to take a very good look at it.”
Edward Snowden has been a polarizing figure in the United States since he shocked the world in 2013 by blowing the whistle on illegal government surveillance systems that had been kept secret for years under Bush and Obama. On the way to Ecuador, the Obama Administration cancelled his passport, stranding him in Russia ever since.
Snowden went out of his way and forfeited everything he had to expose the American Government’s illegal spying, and its invasion of people’s basic privacy rights. His sacrifice is why progressives and libertarians, see him as a hero, and why the Republican and Democratic establishment see him as a traitor. A simple turncoat who deserves imprisonment or execution.
Journalists, newspapers, the ACLU, the Freedom of the Press Foundation, all support Snowden coming back to the United States a free man. But, without clemency from the highest power in the land, there is no reason for him to return. If you think a fair trial awaits him should he come back on his own, ask Chelsea Manning how that would work out.
One of my biggest criticisms of the Obama Administration was his war on whistle-blowers. On his watch, there had been at least eight prosecutions under the Espionage Act, double those under all previous presidents combined. It was Trump worthy shameful.
What is still disgraceful today, is that a know nothing President is at least looking into a possible course of action that Democrats should have done from the start. Back in 2013, when this all went down, we were critical of liberal condemnation toward Snowden. The hypocrisy of calling out Bush’s fascist inclinations, but not Obama’s was maddening.
To this day, there are still those in the Obama Administration who oppose Snowden’s freedom, like ex-ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice. She tweeted “I. Just. Can’t. Congratulations GOP. This is who you are now.” She’s basically insulting Trump for contemplating the one progressive thing he might do throughout his presidency.
Well, just imagine for a second that Snowden never existed, and it took an additional seven years for someone else to come forward. If these revelations had been made public now, during the Trump administration, this new whistle-blower would be hailed by liberals everywhere as the next Daniel Ellsberg. The proper moniker that Snowden deserved at the time.
Even worse, imagine no one had ever come forward and Trump was free to use the illegal government surveillance systems for his own gain. Political, financial, who knows. The damage he may have caused could have been limitless.
I still have my doubts, but if Trump is actually moving to give Snowden clemency, we can’t simply oppose him because he is Donald Trump. We need to do what is right. We should not only support Edward Snowden coming home, but we should actively be pushing Trump to go through with it.