Whistle-blower or traitor, these roles come with consequences. Edward Snowden has been labeled both, but that doesn’t make it any clearer on how he should be handled. He’s been hailed as a “conservative hero“…and as “the biggest leaker in American history.” He’s threatened national security but he’s also revealed how our government is a threat to us. Is he a true citizen or not? The debate is raging, with government members and media on each side of the line, especially over this particularly concrete point: He still broke the law.
“I don’t think we can’t selectively apply the law,” said Sen. Rand Paul on ABC’s This Week. “…I don’t think Edward Snowden deserves the death penalty or life in prison. I think that’s inappropriate. And I think that’s why he fled, because that’s what he faced.”
“Do I think that it’s OK to leak secrets and give up national secrets and things that could endanger lives? I don’t think that’s OK, either.”
Paul argues for leniency. This isn’t a stance where he stands alone but it’s not one supported by the White House or Justice Department. He also validly points out that Snowden isn’t going to be baited back without at least the offer of “a fair trial” and “a reasonable sentence.” Perhaps only a few years of prison time. I mean I know I always look forward to my fair trials and reasonable sentences. It certainly sounds better than death by hanging (courtesy of former CIA Director James Woolsey) or a lifetime in a maximum-security prison. However, it’s an offer that his counterpoint on ABC’s The Week deems too generous.
According to Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), if Snowden is a true whistleblower, he should follow “the grand tradition of civil disobedience” and stop hiding in Russia and China.
“…If Mr. Snowden considered himself part of the “grand tradition of civil disobedience in this country” — a tradition [that Sen. Schumer said] included the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers four decades ago — he should return to stand trial and face the consequences of his actions.”
If you were Snowden, would you come back, especially to a government currently overlooking James Clapper?
“…It’s a bit hypocritical for those who want blood and they want to prosecute Snowden for breaking the law, which he did. But they don’t want to do anything to the director of intelligence for breaking the law,” Paul told “On the Record” in December.
“It’s like we are going to pick and choose which laws can be broken and which ones can’t. I think particularly when you are a high ranking official in government. You are setting an example for the rest of government. It’s made it frankly hard for us to believe when the intelligence community comes and says oh, we need this surveillance technique because we caught all these terrorists and you are like well, let’s look at them one by one [because] we don’t believe you when you tell us that.”
Salon called Clapper’s slip a technicality that wouldn’t necessarily be a slam-dunk in court. However, that doesn’t negate the deeper issue that Congress can’t trust what our intelligence agencies are telling them.
We have seen this time and time again and it creates a problem, according to RedState. Congress is the body that keeps secret executive branch agencies accountable. Yet, many of these intelligence agencies take the “we know best” view in communicating with Congress.
This is the type of situation that creates Snowden scenarios. Yes, he broke the law. There’s no ‘ifs’ about that, but that doesn’t mean we get to play favorites between Snowden and Clapper. This isn’t a question of being “the most truthful” or the “least untruthful”. The law is the law.
WATCH: Paul Suggest That Clapper and Snowden Share a Prison Cell
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