Op-ed: Why President Obama won’t, and shouldn’t, pardon Snowden

Op-ed: Why President Obama won’t, and shouldn’t, pardon Snowden
By Ars Staff

(credit: Oliver Wunder remixed by Aurich Lawson)

Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden has asked President Barack Obama for a pardon, and the ACLU, which represents Snowden in the US, agrees. The following piece is a response to Snowden’s argument.

The author, Jack Goldsmith, is a Harvard Law professor and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. This piece first appeared at Lawfare.

A “pardon Snowden” campaign was launched Wednesday in conjunction with the Snowden film. Snowden himself made the “moral case” for why he should be pardoned, and Tim Edgar made a much more powerful case. I remain unconvinced. I don’t think the president will, or should, pardon Snowden.

I say this even though I agree with Tim about many of the upsides to Snowden’s theft and leak of documents from NSA databases. On the third anniversary of the Snowden disclosures, I wrote about how, despite their many costs, the disclosures strengthened the intelligence community. They forced the NSA to be more transparent and to better explain itself, demonstrated that the NSA was acting with the full knowledge and support of three branches, resulted in its authorities being strengthened and its collection practices barely narrowed (and in some respects expanded), and overall enhanced its domestic legitimacy going forward. I was not kidding when I said that “[t]hese are but some of the public services for which the US government has Snowden to thank.” This was not a new theme with me. I have made similar points for years. (See here and here and here and here.)

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September 18, 2016 at 07:15AM
via Ars Technica UK http://ift.tt/2da16Z1