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Counterpoint: Why Edward Snowden May Not Deserve Clemency

Soulskill posted about 7 months ago | from the issues-that-are-complicated dept.

Government 573

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Fred Kaplan, the Edward R. Murrow press fellow at the Council on Foreign Relation, writes at Slate that if Edward Snowden's stolen trove of beyond-top-secret documents had dealt only with the domestic surveillance by the NSA, then some form of leniency might be worth discussing. But Snowden did much more than that. 'Snowden's documents have, so far, furnished stories about the NSA's interception of email traffic, mobile phone calls, and radio transmissions of Taliban fighters in Pakistan's northwest territories; about an operation to gauge the loyalties of CIA recruits in Pakistan; about NSA email intercepts to assist intelligence assessments of what's going on inside Iran; about NSA surveillance of cellphone calls 'worldwide,' an effort that 'allows it to look for unknown associates of known intelligence targets by tracking people whose movements intersect.' Kaplan says the NYT editorial calling on President Obama to grant Snowden 'some form of clemency' paints an incomplete picture when it claims that Snowden 'stole a trove of highly classified documents after he became disillusioned with the agency's voraciousness.' In fact, as Snowden himself told the South China Morning Post, he took his job as an NSA contractor, with Booz Allen Hamilton, because he knew that his position would grant him 'to lists of machines all over the world [that] the NSA hacked.' Snowden got himself placed at the NSA's signals intelligence center in Hawaii says Kaplan for the sole purpose of pilfering extremely classified documents. 'It may be telling that Snowden did not release mdash; or at least the recipients of his cache haven't yet published — any documents detailing the cyber-operations of any other countries, especially Russia or China,' concludes Kaplan. 'If it turned out that Snowden did give information to the Russians or Chinese (or if intelligence assessments show that the leaks did substantial damage to national security, something that hasn't been proved in public), then I'd say all talk of a deal is off — and I assume the Times editorial page would agree.'"

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What's good for the goose (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45870085)

Governments can dish it out but can't handle it? Too bad. I was never consulted about being taxed, I just am. I'm glad it's not just a one way street with the government thugs.

Re:What's good for the goose (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45870177)

I'm glad it's not just a one way street with the government thugs.

Only in the case where a regular moral citizen has some power to do something about it. For all the other cases, it is similar to:
http://m.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/outrageous-hsbc-settlement-proves-the-drug-war-is-a-joke-20121213 [rollingstone.com]

Re:What's good for the goose (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45870223)

Too bad you were never consulted about having a military protecting you or a street to drive on. Asshole, rest assured that I would be the first person busting down your door with a .45 caliber if there were nothing to stop me. Stockpile more shit please.

Re:What's good for the goose (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45870265)

Yes, because having streets to drive on automatically means I have to agree to any and all things governments do. I like how delusionally violent you get at the mere mention that maybe unchecked government powers are not a good idea. Child.

Re:What's good for the goose (5, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | about 7 months ago | (#45870301)

The military is NOT protecting me. Sorry, but the United States Military that exists today has NOTHING to do with protecting the citizens.

Re:What's good for the goose (1, Funny)

WindBourne (631190) | about 7 months ago | (#45870399)

really? Has any building been attacked in your city since 9-11? Believe me that AQ and others have been trying hard to do so.

Re:What's good for the goose (5, Interesting)

lagomorpha2 (1376475) | about 7 months ago | (#45870459)

You know what would really be effective at stopping Al Qaeda? STOP FUNDING AND ARMING THEM!

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/sep/20/kuhner-how-obama-arms-al-qaeda/ [washingtontimes.com]

It's no secret that the US and Saudi Arabia have been giving Al Qaeda weapons and money when they do mercenary work. Yet somehow no one wants to talk about how to prevent Saudis from funneling money into Al Qaeda.

Let's face it, Al Qaeda is the real life Emmanuel Goldstein: controlled opposition used to justify all the totalitarian legislation that the people in power want to impose.

Re:What's good for the goose (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45870313)

Feel free to bust my door with a .45, but please first ensure I will not welcome your entrance with 00 buckshot... 'just say'in

Re:What's good for the goose (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45870295)

I don't think you realize how the world works.

The people with the biggest and most guns makes the rules. The laws passed and all the harrumph in the world does not change the fact that the USA is doing some very nasty things to it's citizens and the world abroad, and they can not be stopped by any means. If there was an uprising of people inside the USA against the government and it's policies, they would be deemed terrorists and all killed or imprisoned.

Snowden does not have anything important to them, otherwise he would have ended up dead.

Re:What's good for the goose (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45870369)

If there was an uprising of people inside the USA against the government and it's policies, they would be deemed terrorists and all killed or imprisoned.

You need to read up on some history of protests which occurred in the U.S. during the
Viet Nam war. Mass protests DID happen, and the government ( Johnson was
president at the time ) DID NOT kill or imprison them all. Rather, the government
changed its policies with respect to Viet Nam.

Just because you are a spineless pessimist doesn't mean all US citizens are, and you
ABSOLUTELY DO NOT speak for anyone but yourself with your cowardly prognostications.

-

Re:What's good for the goose (1)

lagomorpha2 (1376475) | about 7 months ago | (#45870507)

I think he means a real "tear the Bastille apart brick by brick" uprising, not a bunch of hippies squatting around playing guitar. And it was Nixon that eventually got the US out of Vietnam, not Johnson.

Re:What's good for the goose (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45870475)

I don't think you realize how the world works.
The people with the money controlling a lot of nations behind the scenes make the rules.

Re:What's good for the goose (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45870391)

I was never consulted about being taxed, I just am.

In a democracy, it is your fucking job to speak up.
Quit being a GD troll. It is wankers like you that are destroying the US.

Re:What's good for the goose (4, Informative)

duckintheface (710137) | about 7 months ago | (#45870487)

They want to criticize Snowden for not being more selctive in his release of information? But he offered discuss with the NSA what releases might compromise US security. They refused to talk with him. Now they say he released more than the minimum necessary to demonstrate that the NSA was breaking the law. What is a respecatble whistle-blower to do?

Chinese or Russian Operations? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45870111)

'It may be telling that Snowden did not release — or at least the recipients of his cache haven't yet published — any documents detailing the cyber-operations of any other countries, especially Russia or China,'

Why would he have access to Russian or Chinese documents?

Re:Chinese or Russian Operations? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45870151)

He would not need to. The NSA has plenty of material about foreign intelligence services, ans Snowden did copy those.

Re:Chinese or Russian Operations? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45870175)

So then they probably should leak those themselves: "See, the others are doing it in the same scale!"

Currently it looks like the US are the only state doing global surveillance in this over the top universal extent.

Re:Chinese or Russian Operations? (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about 7 months ago | (#45870215)

Russian historic efforts in Cuba and with spy ships show that few nations can do much without many bases/shared sites world wide. You just cant get the local loops, satellites and later optical without some national telco/mil help per nation.

Re:Chinese or Russian Operations? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45870189)

You're either speculating or you're a traitor for leaking that the NSA has plenty of material about foreign intelligence services.

Re:Chinese or Russian Operations? (3, Funny)

bkmoore (1910118) | about 7 months ago | (#45870417)

You're either speculating or you're a traitor for leaking that the NSA has plenty of material about foreign intelligence services.

That's like when somebody posts that there are animals in the Zoo, you call it speculation.

Re:Chinese or Russian Operations? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45870307)

How do you know what he did or did not copy? After investigating for half a year the spooks themselves can even agree on how much documents he actually took, let alone which ones. Also, as far as it is known, Snowden doesn't control the documents and he isn't deciding what will be and what will not be released. That's what the journalists do.

I'm not sure why leaking informations about spy operations from Russia or China should be some sort of test of Snowden's intentions. It looks more like Mr. Murrow is no longer able to hypocrytically lecture the rest of the world about freedom. The soft power gun is badly damaged, so he wants to partially mitigate his PR problem by showing that US is doing the same as China and Russia.

Which is why you can be pretty sure there aren't any massive collect-it-all programs done by Russia or China on the scale of what US is doing. If they were, US government would told us long time ago and we would not need Snowden for it. After all they had no problem to hypocritically accuse China and Russia of hacking, bugging and all the other things they themselves are doing.

Re:Chinese or Russian Operations? (3, Interesting)

hey! (33014) | about 7 months ago | (#45870405)

He'd have access to what the NSA stole from Russia or China.

The biggest concern with any Russian or Chinese documents is what the NSA's having them reveals about the American intelligence capabilities and operations. A public release of such documents, while embarrassing to Russia and China, might be even more damaging to US intelligence, and might possibly expose people working for the US.

But a *public* release hasn't happened. Instead, Snowden spent several days in the Russian consulate before being allowed into Russia. What did he do to convince the Russians to let him in? If *you* were the Russian foreign ministry, how would *you* handle this? It's a legitimate question.

If Snowden is to be pardoned, it has to be done on the basis that the good he did in revealing the NSA domestic spying program outweighs the damage he has done to our foreign intelligence, which may well be the case.

Re:Chinese or Russian Operations? (5, Insightful)

mbone (558574) | about 7 months ago | (#45870511)

'It may be telling that Snowden did not release — or at least the recipients of his cache haven't yet published — any documents detailing the cyber-operations of any other countries, especially Russia or China,'

Why would he have access to Russian or Chinese documents?

If he did have access to Russian or Chinese documents, it would be because

- the NSA (or CIA or...) stole or snooped them and

- they would be important enough that they would be mentioned in the briefing powerpoints that make up so much of what Snowden apparently has access to.

In other words, this is a sign he is protecting some of the NSA's most truly important secrets, and also a sign that Kaplan is dealing in misinformation if not disinformation.

"...it is telling..." "...if it turned out that.." (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45870119)

So, I whistleblow my employer, but I don't whisteblow some other guy doing something else bad, therefore I support the other guy.

And IF it turned out that I was also fucking children, then I'm a filthy pedo.

Thanks for that FUD-piece.

Re:"...it is telling..." "...if it turned out that (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45870169)

He is a traitor. Sure some good things came out of what he did but that doesn't take away that what he did was treason.

Re:"...it is telling..." "...if it turned out that (1)

buck-yar (164658) | about 7 months ago | (#45870305)

War on Drugs is a war on American citizens. NSA works with the SOD who works with the various State Polices. Any senator, representative, president, prosecutor, police, etc that have participated in this war are guilty of treason. So in this way, Ed Snowden may be guilty of Treason, as many govt appointed and elected officials.

Constitution says:
"Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court."

Re:"...it is telling..." "...if it turned out that (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45870311)

Your wife is fucking the plumber. Your friend tells you the fact.

And the traitor is... your friend!

Excellent thinking, you are definitely a genius.

Re:"...it is telling..." "...if it turned out that (5, Insightful)

x0ra (1249540) | about 7 months ago | (#45870333)

It might be considered that the NSA, and the supporting government, are the actual traitors, acting against the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and Snowden is the actual hero. History (and to some extend, truth) being written by the victorious belligerent, the future will tell who's on whose side.

Re:"...it is telling..." "...if it turned out that (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45870393)

That's not what the author is saying. He's saying that there is evidence that Snowden is not some heroic patriot, but just a regular old spy that got paid off by the Russians or Chinese, and is just using the domestic spying to help get the public on his side and make it more difficult for the U.S. government to catch/prosecute him. And even if that is not the case, he still exposed a lot of the U.S.'s international spying efforts which could potentially cause immediate harm to U.S. forces overseas, in addition to exposing the domestic spying.

Technically correct (5, Interesting)

Sun (104778) | about 7 months ago | (#45870125)

The NSA's operations abroad are not against the organization charter, and are, therefor, not against the law.

Some of the revelations, however, while detailing operations that are technically legal, do paint the organzation in a light that shows it to be an unchecked body with too much power and not enough supervision.

The specific examples listed in the article may not be under the above category. Still, it is not clear who did the sifting through and filtering the material to decide what gets published. If Snowden did none of it, than those can be chalcked down to "collateral damage". If the bulk of the material is relevant for a whistle blower, I'd still go with clemancy.

Shachar
P.s.
Not that I, as a non-US citizen, or even resident, have a real say on the matter.

Re:Technically correct (5, Insightful)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 7 months ago | (#45870183)

Not that I, as a non-US citizen, or even resident, have a real say on the matter.

Not that I, as a US citizen, have a real say on the matter either.

Re:Technically correct (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45870319)

US citizens cannot cop out like that. You must take the responsibility for what is done by your elected officials with your tax dollars.

Re:Technically correct (2)

heypete (60671) | about 7 months ago | (#45870373)

US citizens cannot cop out like that. You must take the responsibility for what is done by your elected officials with your tax dollars.

How, exactly?

Re:Technically correct (2)

polar red (215081) | about 7 months ago | (#45870489)

your elected officials

right. those people are elected.

Re:Technically correct (3, Insightful)

605dave (722736) | about 7 months ago | (#45870495)

By voting. We have incredibly low voter turn out rates. And yes here comes the "both sides are the same so why vote" argument. Alright, then get involved in politics in some way. Most people don't participate, then claim there's nothing that can be done.

Re:Technically correct (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45870513)

You have so many guns that you're all so proud of, find some useful idiots and point them in the right direction.

Re:Technically correct (1)

znrt (2424692) | about 7 months ago | (#45870377)

US citizens cannot cop out like that.

so US isn't a free country, after all? :)

You must take the responsibility for what is done by your elected officials with your tax dollars.

besides the pun, i agree with you, just the 'by your elected officials" part made me grin because it appeals to the wrong principles. democracy isn't just about voting. in fact voting is actually the least important aspect, specially since power is so entrenched that poll outcome is largely irrelevant nowadays in most democracies. you also do not know if the poster is eligible for vote, or if he voted for that particular bunch of officials. odds are he didn't.

Re:Technically correct (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45870321)

Not that I, as a non-US citizen, or even resident, have a real say on the matter.

Not that I, as a US citizen, have a real say on the matter either.

Not that I, as a US Senator, have a real say on the matter either.

Re:Technically correct (1, Insightful)

znrt (2424692) | about 7 months ago | (#45870275)

paint the organzation in a light that shows it to be an unchecked body with too much power and not enough supervision

and so the 'national security agency' revealed itself as one of the bigger threats to 'national security'. the enemy within ...

Not that I, as a non-US citizen, or even resident, have a real say on the matter.

nobody really has because this is all just smoke. does snowden deserve clemency? what sort of sick brain brings up that question? it just tries to sneak in the assumption that he is guilty somehow, and that's what this is about. does this moron fred kaplan deserve clemency? snowden is actually irrelevant, now, except for anyone wanting to shoot the messenger rather than deal with reality.

we need more snowdens, and less cock-sucking fud-spewing self-important minions. i have no clemency for this one in my heart.

Re:Technically correct (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45870541)

YES. THIS!

Re:Technically correct (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45870329)

Well, since Snowden took the data he has a responsibility as a whistleblower to make sure only material relevant to domestic spying gets released. I have to say this article has shifted my opinion because I wasn't aware of the scope of what has been released, nor did I really think much about the non-domestic spying information that has been released. He should not be prosecuted for his release of domestic surveillance material, but he should be prosecuted for everything else he has released.

Re:Technically correct (2)

jcr (53032) | about 7 months ago | (#45870523)

The NSA's operations abroad are not against the organization charter, and are, therefor, not against the law.

Why do you assume that the NSA's charter entitles them to break the laws of other countries?

-jcr

And so begins the FUD (1)

Enter the Shoggoth (1362079) | about 7 months ago | (#45870131)

Snowden may be a first class asshole for all I know but that's irrelevant... our elites have failed us and it's only a matter of time before history repeats and the streets run with blood.

All Snowden has done is shown precisely how naked the Emperor is. Squabbling over minutiae is just window dressing from this point onwards.

Re: freedom (5, Insightful)

transporter_ii (986545) | about 7 months ago | (#45870201)

Soldiers fight for our freedom? As if fighting in some third-world crap hole has anything to do with our freedom here in the United States. I think Snowden is a true hero. He didn't give his life for oil or empire, he gave his life for something that intimately has to do with *our* freedom.

Re: freedom (2)

Enter the Shoggoth (1362079) | about 7 months ago | (#45870237)

Soldiers fight for our freedom? As if fighting in some third-world crap hole has anything to do with our freedom here in the United States. I think Snowden is a true hero. He didn't give his life for oil or empire, he gave his life for something that intimately has to do with *our* freedom.

WTF? Who said anything about soldiers.... Please re-read what I wrote

Re: freedom (1)

iserlohn (49556) | about 7 months ago | (#45870283)

But he didn't give up his life, he opted to create a new one. He went the same way as Assange did by seeking asylum in an unfriendly country. If he really wanted to make a point, he should come back and argue his case in court. Plenty of lawyers would be happy to work for him due to the high-profile nature of the case.

Even if he were convicted, is that any worse than being confined in his current situation? Conversely, it may lend much greater credence to his cause. Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years and his incarceration was one of the things that kept support for the anti-apartheid movement strong.

Re: freedom (4, Insightful)

AHuxley (892839) | about 7 months ago | (#45870309)

Re Plenty of lawyers would be happy to work for him due to the high-profile nature of the case.
They would have to be cleared by the US gov. Thats a short list of US lawyers. The court would be sealed.

Re: freedom (1)

iserlohn (49556) | about 7 months ago | (#45870337)

The difference between this case and Manning's is that Snowden will be tried in a civilian court rather than a military tribunal. Due to what we know already, there would be immense public pressure conduct the trail in the open, and there is know point sealing what is already public knowledge.

Re: freedom (4, Interesting)

transporter_ii (986545) | about 7 months ago | (#45870339)

And suppose he tried that, he ended up in jail, and the government was somehow able to spin damage control and minimize his efforts? You make some good points, but he took the most realistic path of options to make sure he didn't go down in vain. I must admit, when this all started, I thought it would blow over fairly quickly. Most events like this have. In the end, the only thing that America responds to is money. That Snowden is costing corporations money here is the best thing to happen to America since apple pie. The Constitution is gone and our Rights are a joke, but cost corporations some money, and maybe we will see baby steps taken in the right direction.

Re: freedom (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 7 months ago | (#45870423)

But he didn't give up his life, he opted to create a new one.

But he did give up his life, which is why he has to create a new one. He didn't actually have to die; he has to live with his decisions.

If he really wanted to make a point, he should come back and argue his case in court.

What point do you really think he'd be able to make? They won't permit much of his testimony for national security excuses.

Even if he were convicted, is that any worse than being confined in his current situation?

Ask Manning.

Re: freedom (1)

znrt (2424692) | about 7 months ago | (#45870431)

If he really wanted to make a point, he should come back and argue his case in court.

he has already made a point. you seem to have missed it.

besides, the obvious reason for him to stay away is that he can't reasonably expect a fair trial in the US. and that's the other important point he's making.

Re:And so begins the FUD (1)

folderol (1965326) | about 7 months ago | (#45870225)

Indeed so, added to "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain"

China and Russia's cybe operations? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45870137)

How could have Snowden accessed documents detailing the cyber-operations of any other countries, especially Russia or China? Did Kaplan just leaked that the NSA possesses documents on China and Russia cyber-operations that Snowden could have accessed? Kaplan should be prosecuted for revealing to China and Russia that the NSA has documents on their own cyber-operations.

Unknown associates... (3, Interesting)

foobar bazbot (3352433) | about 7 months ago | (#45870165)

about NSA surveillance of cellphone calls 'worldwide,' an effort that 'allows it to look for unknown associates of known intelligence targets by tracking people whose movements intersect.'

Yes, it's essential to national security that we "look for", identify, and if necessary kill, any and all "unknown associates" of Ms. Merkel!

It doesn't prove Snowden is in the right, but when the NSA's proponents can't string together one paragraph summarizing the "good" programs Snowden's compromised without this sort of thing, you can be pretty damn sure NSA is so far wrong it's not funny.

Kaplan makes some excellent points (3, Insightful)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | about 7 months ago | (#45870167)

Snowden could have been an Ellsberg; instead he chose to take his information to China and Russia. One would have to assume is the first things those country's intelligence agencies would do is get their hands on his files. He could refuse; but then again they could simply bundle him up and ship him back to the US and core political points. In addition, if what Kaplan says is correct and he did this in a premeditated manner then his whole story starts to unravel. At this pony, he has to start wondering what happens when he is a bigger liability to Russia than an asset? Putin certainly, as a former intelligence officer, will have no qualms over cutting him lose once he is no longer useful. finally, there is no upside for any President granting clemency. Cutting a deal, maybe, where Snowden gets a reduced sentence in exchange for cooperation.His biggest problem, in many ways, will be his ego. As his value fades and the world loses interest in him, if Russia doesn't cut him loose he'll probably wind up like Kim Philby, cutoff from friends and family, largely forgotten and ignored. That will take a harsh psychological toll.

Re:Kaplan makes some excellent points (5, Insightful)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about 7 months ago | (#45870213)

Snowden could have been an Ellsberg; instead he chose to take his information to China and Russia.

No, he chose to take *himself* to China and Russia, and I can't say I blame him.

One would have to assume is the first things those country's intelligence agencies would do is get their hands on his files.

Except they didn't, because Snowden didn't take his files with him, at least not unencrypted.

He could refuse; but then again they could simply bundle him up and ship him back to the US and core political points.

Are you kidding? This is their best propaganda coup in the past twenty years. They're not going to screw it up even if they don't get access to Snowden's files.

Re:Kaplan makes some excellent points (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 7 months ago | (#45870257)

Or more bluntly, if he'd sought asylum in a Western country would he have felt protected from the Americans?

Re: Kaplan makes some excellent points (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45870293)

http://xkcd.com/538/

Re: Kaplan makes some excellent points (2)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about 7 months ago | (#45870465)

That's assuming Snowden *has* the password to his encrypted files. The best way for him to have done it, near as I can figure it, for him to take the encrypted files but not the keys, and leave the keys with an trusted friend or two. So no matter what the Chinese or Russians might do to him, they wouldn't be able to get the files unlocked.

Re:Kaplan makes some excellent points (5, Informative)

AHuxley (892839) | about 7 months ago | (#45870267)

The Ellsberg days are over, There is no open court for cleared material. You face the same people you are wanting the press to know about with your cleared lawyer... in a sealed court. Nothing will ever get out and you still face a US court.
Many good people in the US have tried the US court path, some with political protection. After the Ellsberg generation nothing much ever gets out to the tame press anymore.
http://cryptome.org/2013-info/06/whistleblowing/whistleblowing.htm [cryptome.org]
Getting out was the only way to get to the press. Now the press is releasing the material in its own way and the wider public can understand what they are getting when they use crypto.
http://cryptome.org/2013/11/snowden-tally.htm [cryptome.org]
http://cryptome.org/2014/01/nsa-codenames.htm [cryptome.org]
Russia just has to wait and see if the info has been pre sorted, is bait, a trap or has unique internal errors to track Russian spies within the USA.
Russia would be very careful with any free press material vs a person they understand working for them deep with in the US gov over years.

Re:Kaplan makes some excellent points (1, Insightful)

jafiwam (310805) | about 7 months ago | (#45870325)

The upside to giving him clemency is it's the first step in preserving the government of the United States.

When citizens begin to kill government officials over this stuff, the government want to show they "are sorry" and "won't do it again" by "making things right."

So basically the more pissed off people are, the more Snowden has a chance of a normal life again. (This FUD article certainly helped him, I just now went from wanting to slap people silly to wanting to hit them with a nice, sharp ax. Or , maybe go aftrica on them and use a machete. What a bunch of lies and what-ifs this article is. "we don't have any evidence he gave secrets to china so he must have!")

Clemency will be a political move by one of the American parties thinking they can get more power. Which party it is, will depend on where stuff falls out, and when stuff falls out. Whichever party that is less influential at the time will push for clemency.

No matter what happens, Snoweden is now just a pawn in a bigger game. The problem is, one can WIN the game based on what one does with the pawns.

Re:Kaplan makes some excellent points (1)

couchslug (175151) | about 7 months ago | (#45870445)

You can't be an Ellsberg any more. That's absurd. You'd get the Bradley Manning treatment.

The only sane thing to do is dump then leave the US for the rest of your life. For someone with talent there is zero reason to want to come back.

Kim Philby was of another, distant, almost (as it was pre-internet) pre-communication age and considering his background of course he was alien to the Eastern Bloc. OTOH Snowden can make new friends in his new world because he has peers there.

The NSA knows no borders (2)

bkmoore (1910118) | about 7 months ago | (#45870179)

Since all of the NSA's collection programs are international in scope, how should Snowden separate the documents to make an international spying program such as XKEYSCORE resemble a "domestic-only" program? That's an impossible hurdle... The corollary is that in the author's opinion, any leak about the NSA's collection should be punished because it would include spying on "legitimate targets". But his argument sounds reasonable on the surface.

Not "clemency" (5, Insightful)

KiloByte (825081) | about 7 months ago | (#45870181)

He doesn't deserve clemency, yeah. For clemency, you first need to do something wrong.

Re:Not "clemency" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45870343)

He did do something wrong: he released data that had absolutely nothing to do with domestic spying. His actions as a whistleblower do not cancel out his release of data about foreign spying which he should be prosecuted for.

I for one (2)

fisted (2295862) | about 7 months ago | (#45870187)

am glad Snoden didn't release mdash;

Re:I for one (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45870249)

oh definitely, mdash is way above TS//SI//REL

one-way certainty (5, Insightful)

epine (68316) | about 7 months ago | (#45870191)

'If it turned out that Snowden did give information to the Russians or Chinese (or if intelligence assessments show that the leaks did substantial damage to national security, something that hasn't been proved in public), then I'd say all talk of a deal is off â" and I assume the Times editorial page would agree.'

This is one of those propositions that can only ever be in the past tense in a single logical state: busted.

These one-way allegations have a way of never dying, or at least not until it's back page news. Meanwhile, they muddy the waters a great deal just hanging there.

Neither is it self-evidently clear that the NSA's voraciousness is separable, to where informed public debate can exist with only one-half of the picture (aka the domestic half).

I think this article translates to: "it's our policy to never grant clemency under any conditions just in case we later discover a game-changing fact".

The option of a conditional clemency is fraught with unsolvable issues. Snowden could attest that he's never actually done any entirely non-clement things, and if were subsequently learned otherwise, his clemency could be revoked. This would be "clement until proven guilty".

Only for this to be workable, one would have to have a way to prove that the NSA never plants leaks of its own information to gain what it dearly wants—have I got a bridge to sell you—as there's no way to prove that a leak originated from Snowden unless the substance of the leak contains information one can verify the NSA never had at that time.

Good luck with that.

And somehow the subtext of all this seems to imply that the NSA's proven snookery (illegitimately authorized as far as the eye can see) should take a back seat to Snowden's unproven snookery (the worst things he might have done).

I don't blame the NSA for the lamentable standards of civic discourse. But neither can the agency hide from their legacy of operating behind a thick smoke screen of democratic false impressions.

Frank Kaplan is a fascist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45870197)

He is a fascist and a traitor of the people. One day the balance of power will change, Franky boy may pray it won't happen in his lifetime.

Gut feeling (1)

no-body (127863) | about 7 months ago | (#45870199)

of sensible people is they are taken for a ride, that Snowden did the right thing and now, as expected, the bean counter mentalities bribed by mental cool-aid are trying to countersteer the sailboat which already left the harbor.

How the show continues will be seen and the true outcome may never be known.

Just one hell of a said affair going on.....

What was not known? (2)

AHuxley (892839) | about 7 months ago | (#45870203)

Every country with their own little sets of 'freedom fighters' or revolitionaries would tell their groups not to trust email traffic, mobile phone calls, and radio transmissions by default.
As for cyber-operations, every country has known since the late 1960's that their telco, crypto, banking, legal, embassy networks where under constant surveillance and could not to be trusted.
By the 1980's encrypted embassy plain text was finding its way into the Western press...
Some nations crypto staff seem to be not working for their nations best interests when passing junk encryption... the German efforts to protect their political communications seem very slow...
As for Russian or China will they really be baited by an ex CIA source who got to work for the NSA via a contractor?
Thankfully what has changed is a deeper understanding of software, hardware and crypto been junk as sold, delivered, reviewed or upgraded.

Obey Obey Obey (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45870219)

Snowden is Evil because We Say So.

Clemency?! (0, Troll)

Maimun (631984) | about 7 months ago | (#45870229)

Snowden chose to take part in a war. A war that takes place on many fronts; part of it is a real hot war (against the islamists - the scale may be not one of a total war but it is a real war with active killings), part of it is cold (against Russia and/or China - no shooting takes place on those fronts but there is some real struggle about shifting the power balance this or that way). Whose side one takes is a matter of preference. I personally feel part of the Western world and consequently I side with the US because the US is the only remaining real Western power. The hot war the US wages against the islamists keeps them pinned down in some remote (from my POV) locations. It is leftist myth that if the US withdraws the islamists will calm down; for a while, maybe, and then they will be upon us; they clearly seek control and domination. The US kinda decreased the pressure on Russia during Obama's presidency and we are witnessing the ill effects of that at the moment, Russia smothering Ukraine into submission. The EU has some ways to influence Russia but they are clearly insufficient and it is really sad to watch the EU senility and inability against the bold arrogance of Northern Asia.

Those wars are out there, like it or not. The US has done terrible wrongs but, from my POV, that is secondary to the fact the US is the only real power that can keep the Asian autoritarianism at distance. Information is absolutely vital for not losing a war (winning is impossible anyway) and what Snowden did, no matter what the motives, clearly hurt our side. To whine about "clemency" is ridiculous. He chose to switch sides himself. His former job was such that getting into neutral position for him is impossible. I doubt Russia will ever let him be free to move at will. Just like the USSR never trusted Kim Filby and kept him in a controlled environment, more a showcase rather then any asset of any value, I suspect now Snowden will be a pet monkey for the Kremlin satrap. However, if Snowden is let free, I will not shed any tears when the long arm of youknowwho reaches him.

Re:Clemency?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45870287)

Snowden chose to take part in a war. A war that takes place on many fronts; part of it is a real hot war (against the islamists - the scale may be not one of a total war but it is a real war with active killings), part of it is cold (against Russia and/or China - no shooting takes place on those fronts but there is some real struggle about shifting the power balance this or that way).

No. Russia, China, "the Islamists" -- none of these bogeymen currently pose a threat to the US. There is certainly no existential threat the way there was during WWII or the Cold War.

Sure, the (vast) wealth and power gap between the US and other nations is (slowly) narrowing, but why is that a bad thing? Doesn't it just mean better security worldwide?

Re:Clemency?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45870299)

"The US kinda decreased the pressure on Russia during Obama's presidency and we are witnessing the ill effects of that at the moment, Russia smothering Ukraine into submission."

Since G.H.W. Bush's "Chicken Kiev" speech written by Condoleezza Rice, when has the US ever really cared about Ukrainian autonomy?

Re:Clemency?! (0)

DarkOx (621550) | about 7 months ago | (#45870429)

It is leftist myth that if the US withdraws the islamists will calm down

Maybe but I would offer two things:

One: its not really our problem, simple geography means its the western societies in Europe and Africa's problem.

Two: If you really think fundamentalist Islam is a serious threat to the United States than we ought to drop, DVDs, Magazines, clothing, and packaged snack food on them instead of bombs. We should crank up the wattage on FM transmitters pushing VOA and other western networks just outside their boarders so high no State Sponsored media in their own nation can be heard. It would cost so much less in both dollars and lives. I am with you the 12th Century brand of Islamic Culture is absolutely something we ought to seek to eradicate. If you really want to do that though you expose them to our Culture constantly and repressively. Yes it will cause a tiny fraction of radicals to start frothing at the mouth but I seriously doubt the majority are going to continue to tolerate oppressive radical fundamentalist Islamic regimes when they actually know what modern western society is really like.

Re:Clemency?! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45870443)

If you ignore the fact that the "islamists" are mostly fighting the US with the arms the US gave them then what you say almost makes sense.

Almost.

Re:Clemency?! (1)

Chris Graham (942108) | about 7 months ago | (#45870477)

I have to say, I really do respect an honest interpretation of the harsh realities out there. It's so rare to see, you either get tub-thumbing from conservatives or extreme naivety from liberals.

I think though there is a better way, rather than fanatic vs whatever power side you pick. The US should be an example to the world, a positive role model that actually inspires people. There are plenty of people around the world who have grown up loving American ideals, and now hate everything it has become. Strategically, America is losing its European allies, it's morale, and it's bargaining position. I heard a good quote recently about how being conservative is about being scared and therefore doing what someone who is scared does. Does anybody want to live in a world where there is no real freedom and justice? It's not worth it. Loss of ethical behaviour is pernicious. You can see now every part of the political, judicial, media, corporate, and power, establishment, is eroding in lock-step. On the other hand, ideals can inspire and spread quickly. I think that is very real, not naive.

There's no reason America has to be a declining empire, people would support it again if it stood up for what is right. Continue using drones against militants, continue to have strong cybersecurity capabilities, continue to invest in new war technology - but do it within a framework of justice, transparency, and accept that freedom requires sacrifice. I would rather live free and be at risk of being blown up, than live under a fist. No doubt America does need to make some broader sacrifices - for example cut down on cheap imports made by controlled populations and foster greater (but more expensive) domestic production. Be honest and teach people this. Get people out from under their scared consumerist blanket.

So, there are enemies to be fought, but what really has to be defended, are principles and a positive future for us.

it's just collateral damage. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45870231)

So lets apologize, convey our sympathies and ignore it. As per usual, everything will be alright. ok ?

I think most importantly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45870247)

nobody is aware of the volume of documents. Snowden may not even scratched the surface, and specifically handed over editorial control and journalistic ethics to a group of news organizations to pick what gets released. As some numbers have been floated the documents are at least in the many tens of thousands, but as high as 1.5 million. Thats teams of people working for months or years to sift through. So this type of mass collection would be beyond the scope of his personal ability to carefully select what was given to journalists. If he personally handed over to china or russia anything, he'd be in the bad books. but other than that, his motives as stated do not seem to be violated

Fred Kaplan is an idiot (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45870255)

The rights enumerated in (but NOT granted by) the US Constitution are BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS to which every human being is entitled.

Every human being on Earth has a fundamental human right against unreasonable searches and seizures, unlawful arrests, and to be free of total government snooping and over-reaching police actions.

Exposing our violation of the rights of practically the entire Earth population was the right thing to do. Snowden deserves more than clemency. He deserves a sainthood.

American Exceptionalism (1, Insightful)

shawnhcorey (1315781) | about 7 months ago | (#45870269)

Just another example of American exceptionalism: Snowden should not have divulged America's illegal activities outside the US because we're special; we can do no wrong. What a bunch of self-righteous bigots.

Re:American Exceptionalism (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 7 months ago | (#45870371)

Since when do other nations not engage in foreign intelligence gathering?

The idea that it's unusual is ridiculous.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Industrial_espionage#Notable_cases [wikipedia.org]

Truthy (3, Insightful)

quantaman (517394) | about 7 months ago | (#45870281)

Kaplan says the NYT editorial calling on President Obama to grant Snowden 'some form of clemency' paints an incomplete picture when it claims that Snowden 'stole a trove of highly classified documents after he became disillusioned with the agency's voraciousness.' In fact, as Snowden himself told the South China Morning Post, he took his job as an NSA contractor, with Booz Allen Hamilton, because he knew that his position would grant him 'to lists of machines all over the world [that] the NSA hacked.' Snowden got himself placed at the NSA's signals intelligence center in Hawaii says Kaplan for the sole purpose of pilfering extremely classified documents.

What Kaplan leaves out is that gig was not the first time Snowden worked for the NSA, he'd been working with the NSA and CIA in various capacities since 2006. It was during this work "he became disillusioned with the agency's voraciousness". He took the contractor position explicitly to get the evidence for the illegal programs he already had first hand knowledge of.

Kaplan actually emphasizes that this job was only 3 months, implying that Snowden had just learned about the programs and is therefore lying about all his deliberations and questioning within the agency.

Whatever you think of Snowden I think there's enough evidence to conclude that Kaplan is a hack.

Does USA care about the rest of the world? (4, Interesting)

kasperd (592156) | about 7 months ago | (#45870285)

Had the released documents only reveled domestic spying, then the NSA might have looked even worse in the eyes of Americans, but the USA might not have looked as bad to the rest of the world. It would have been a misleading image of the USA though.

It may have been illegal according to current American law for Snowden to reveal, that USA is treating every other country in the world as an enemy. But you have got to ask if it really is Snowden, who is wrong here. It could be that it is Snowden who is right, and on the other side, we have the law, the NSA, and the government who are all wrong.

I'd say it is up to the population of the USA to decide whose side they want to be on.

If the population of the USA thinks it is OK that NSA is spying on all other countries as if they were an enemy of USA, then the population should make this point very clear. In that case Snowden should never go back to the USA, but there will surely be countries of another opinion, in which Snowden can live as a free man.

If OTOH the population of the USA thinks that the NSA has gone too far, then they should also make this point very clear. If it is only the small elite in power, who consider the spying to be OK, then the population need to replace them with somebody who acts in the interest of the population. In this case it is of little importance, if the NSA acted within the law, the law need to be updated to make it absolutely clear, that this is no longer legal. And Snowden's actions should retroactively be made legal.

I don't know what the majority of the population of USA thinks about that question, but I think the world deserves to know. Does the population of USA think it is OK for USA to be spying on every other country?

human rights (4, Insightful)

allo (1728082) | about 7 months ago | (#45870317)

are called human rights, because everyone has them. Even criminals, convicted murderers, child killers. Every human has human rights.

So, snowden is a hero. Privacy is not only meant for the USA.

Re:human rights (0, Troll)

tpstigers (1075021) | about 7 months ago | (#45870433)

He may be a hero. He's definitely a traitor. If he's really the former, he needs to take personal responsibility for the latter.

Re:human rights (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45870439)

Privacy is a relatively modern, first world invention. In the recent past and in other places outside of "first world" countries, there is no expectation of privacy in the Western sense. This can be entirely physical where people may have sexual relations, perform bodily functions, sleep, etc., with many other people around.

NY Times Self Interest (1)

drapetomaniac (1379039) | about 7 months ago | (#45870351)

The newspapers asking for his clemency all received financial benefit from Snowden with the headlines and people looking for information about the headlines they were pushing.

Credibility (4, Interesting)

DarkOx (621550) | about 7 months ago | (#45870367)

As far as the intent argument goes. We have know all kinds of abuses have been happening for a long time. Courts have issued rules on insane standings rules that say things like "you can't know your right were violated" so you can't sue, which means you can't find out through discovery.

So someone like Snowden who is on the outside would have had little choice but to intentionally infiltrate the NSA or just keep bending over and taking it like everyone else. It might be more fair to describe him as an activist than a whistle-blower, but morally I think there is plenty of equivalence there.

The issue about disclosing the stuff that isn't likely to be illegal or outside charter is that it was probably necessary for credibility. If the only stuff he handed over was heavily filtered and redacted the only questions that would have been raised would be "why should we believe any of this is authentic, the courts will never let us verify any of it?" and "What aren't you telling us?" It isn't as if he posted the whole trove on 4chan or something he leaked to (mostly) responsible press agencies who have always played the role of filter for this kind of thing in western democracy. I think the wider leaks though perhaps unfortunate with respect to some national interests were quite necessary and done as responsibly as possible.

All and all the arguments against clemency pretty much boil down to "he threatened order, and we can't have that" Which when it comes to military and intelligence personal and civilian employes of similar nature is not an argument entirely without merit; but the NSA is so out of hand a wrench any smaller would have done nothing to even slow the gears. At some point the system gets to broken to work with in it.

whether he deserves clemency or not (1)

FudRucker (866063) | about 7 months ago | (#45870449)

Edward Snowden better find a home in Russia or some other East Asian backwater like Mongolia, get married in live a hidden very rural life, and here is a book i recommend for him to read: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/You_Can't_Go_Home_Again [wikipedia.org]

Not stealing (2)

Atmchicago (555403) | about 7 months ago | (#45870463)

He copied the documents but did not deprive the NSA of them. He only copied them and did not steal them. This is the same distinction that must be made when discussing copyright violations. It seems like a small point, but the thievery elicits much stronger emotional responses than copying does, and some are making deliberate efforts to paint Snowden in as bad a light as possible. Please, let's use the correct term.

A government by the people... (2)

spikenerd (642677) | about 7 months ago | (#45870473)

...for the people, and of the people has no legitimate reason to indefinitely keep secrets from the people. When temporary secrets are needed, they should be placed in escrow, so the reasonableness of the duration can be evaluated when it comes out, and those keeping the secret can be held accountable. Until the government provides such reasonable checks, surely the people are justified in seizing all of its information by force.

Secrecy Has No Place Here (1)

Jim Sadler (3430529) | about 7 months ago | (#45870491)

Supposedly in the US we elect our leaders. We also decide the degree of taxation and which agencies will receive more or less tax dollars. So what meaning does a vote have when much of government is covert? Is our military adequate? Does our military receive enough funding? I have no clue because much of our military is top secret. Without knowing whether we are superior in strike and defend ability how do I decide who should be president? Is the NSA over or under funded? How can I know? Should I be voting for hawks or doves? Clearly the ability of government to have secrets wipes out democracy . So I must belive that anyone who releases secrets is a hero in that our own government may well be more dangerous than any foreign power.

I still don't get it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45870501)

Snowden had many options for disclosing some of his information. He chose the most headline-grabbing, attention-seeking method, that also happens to be illegal. There are true whistle-blowers that have inspired change while using legal tactics without achieving celebrity status. It may be harder. It may take more time. But they believed in the cause and dedicated those resources. I really have no sympathy for him and really don't understand the calls for clemency. He had options, he chose to break the law.

Clemency? Absurd. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45870505)

As long as felons like Holder, Alexander, Clapper are not just running around free but are kept employed, any talk about "clemency" is absurd. When we are talking about equal and just treatment, clemency will not come into play if Snowden returns to the U.S.A. Instead he will be given ample media time and be able to continue in his work as a government contractor.

That's how the Department of Justice and the president and congress reacted to the proven crimes of multiple perjury by government officials who spent billions of dollars fighting the U.S. constitution and spreading terror domestically and abroad.

Can we do less for Ed Snowden? The person who actually kept his oath on the constitution?

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