Is the U.S. slowly making things right for Edward Snowden to come home?
Thanks to former NSA contractor turned whistleblower Edward Snowden, the threat of an Orwellian society in the United States has diminished. The National Security Administration’s mass surveillance of the country’s own citizens has been uncovered. But at what cost? Edward Snowden now lives in exile in the most unlikely of places, which is Russia. On the run from United States authorities which consider him a traitor for distributing sensitive information to the press. Now that the truth is out, after a massive media backlash, the NSA has lost some of its power and its massive surveillance programs on US citizens put on hold, vindicating Edward Snowden. Will he now be able to come home now that he’s been proven to be on the right side? According to former attorney general Eric Holder, there might be.
“…we are in a different place as a result of the Snowden disclosures…I certainly think there could be a basis for a resolution that everybody could ultimately be satisfied with. I think the possibility exists,”
–Eric Holder, former Attorney General, Interview with Yahoo News
Such coming from the man who said these contrary words January of last year,
“If Mr. Snowden wanted to come back to the United States and enter a plea, we would engage with his lawyers. We’d do that with any defendant who wanted to enter a plea of guilty…We’ve always indicated… that the notion of clemency was not something we were willing to consider…Were he to come back to the United States and enter a plea, we would engage with his lawyers.”
–Appearance, University of Virginia’s Miller Center
To further tighten the noose,
“He is a person who is charged, and will be charged, with a variety of crimes. When he has legal representation, and if those lawyers want to talk about a resolution of the case, we would obviously engage in those conversations… The notion of clemency — a simple, you know, no harm, no foul — I think that would be going too far. But in the resolution of this matter, with an acceptance of responsibility, we would always engage in those kinds of conversations…”
—Eric Holder, Interview with MSNBC
The Justice Department however has yet to confirm the notion but continues to indicate that Snowden’s homecoming won’t be without consequences.
“This is an ongoing case so I am not going to get into specific details but I can say our position regarding bringing Edward Snowden back to the United States to face charges has not changed,”
–Marc Raimondi, Justice Department spokesman
So what will it be, really? It’s in the best interest of Snowden and the US for him to be back home. His presence in Russia continues to be a grave security issue despite his statements that he had no copies of his documents for the Russians to exploit. For Snowden, however, any amount of prison time is out of the question. In his point of view, although his offense practically amounts to treason, he did the right thing. Many of his followers feel the same way and much of America at the height of his revelations felt uncomfortable with the NSA’s actions. Nothing short of clemency could entice him to pack up and leave his new comrades. Snowden’s belief is that the chance of a fair trial is slim.
Meanwhile, Mr. Holder’s new stance suggests that the government might be willing to make concessions. That the smoke has cleared enough for Snowden to go back. Or, Mr. Holder could be wrong about the government and his new stance on the issue could be the result of him being back in the private sector and that his new belief was his old one to begin with. That spying on American citizens was wrong but it’s still his job back then was to whip all whistleblowers.
Others however don’t think Edward Snowden should come home without repercussions. His revelations, though well-meant has done much damage to the US and its ties with allies as the NSA allegedly tapped communications of several diplomats. Some believe that his being marooned in Russia was not coincidence. Even those who share his belief that the government exceeded its authority say that Snowden also revealed too much. At best, they believe that given the current data collection policy, Snowden should receive a “reasonable sentence” for his deed. As the president himself once said:
“…the benefit of the debate he generated was not worth the damage done, because there was another way of doing it… [I don’t] have a yes/no answer on clemency for Edward Snowden.”