Snowden’s Pernicious Plea

Brian Chang, News Editor

In a world of ever-evolving threats, national security is of the utmost importance, and anyone who willingly violates the security of their country deserves to be punished to the fullest extent of the law. The perpetrator of one of the largest leaks of information in the history of the U.S., Edward Snowden, is no exception.  He should not be granted a presidential pardon, forced to remain snowed in inside Russia for the rest of his life.

Some groups, such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, are pushing for Snowden’s pardon, though Snowden has claimed he will never ask for a pardon himself. However, he has stated he believes he should be granted a presidential pardon. Those who claim Snowden deserves to be pardoned glorify him as a “whistle-blower” who broke the news regarding the National Security Agency’s surveillance of domestic phone calls, leading to reforms at a federal level. This may all be true. However, all of his would-be supporters overlook the glaringly obvious fact that what Snowden did was, in fact, illegal—absolutely, unflinchingly illegal.

Snowden explicitly and knowingly broke the law, as well as oaths and contractual agreements, by copying and then distributing millions of the U.S. government’s secret files. While he did release information relating to the NSA’s gathering of telephone metadata, which shows the time of a call as well as its participants, there has been no evidence put forth that the metadata was harmful to domestic security–because such evidence doesn’t exist. Snowden’s “heroic actions” amount to nothing; the data he unveiled had no negative bearing on the American people. Pardoning Snowden will only encourage others like him to disclose classified government information. Of other information pertaining to the NSA’s intelligence gathering released, very little involved individual American citizens. Snowden leaked information about the PRISM program, which is a separate, court-authorized program designed to collect information overseas, as well as details on international surveillance operations.

According to a bipartisan report by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the leaks have the potential to cause “tremendous damage” to U.S. security. Snowden’s claim of working for a “higher cause” is ridiculous; there is no higher cause than a nation’s security. Snowden’s refusal to return to his country and face a jury of his peers is a tremendous blow to his case; if he truly believed he was innocent, he would not have fled to a country known for violently silencing its own whistle blowers. Snowden cites a clause in U.S. security-protection statutes that prevents him from claiming his so-called “higher purpose.” This may be a little bit of a stretch, but perhaps that clause exists because there is no such thing as a higher purpose when dealing with the security of an entire country. Edward Snowden compromised U.S. national security, and continues to refuse to accept any measure of responsibility for his actions. Instead, he continues to evade the laws he purposefully broke, while calling for a pardon. Snowden is a criminal and deserves to be punished like one, and no amount of positivity from Oliver Stone, director of a new film painting Snowden in a positive light, will convince me, and hopefully Barack Obama, otherwise.