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The Guardian reports that NSA officials are so worried about the documents Edward Snowden stole and may still release, they are actually considering offering him amnesty for their return:
National Security Agency officials are considering a controversial amnesty that would return Edward Snowden to the United States, in exchange for the extensive document trove the whistleblower took from the agency….
The NSA official in charge of assessing the alleged damage caused by Snowden’s leaks, Richard Ledgett, told CBS News an amnesty still remains controversial within the agency, which has spent the past six months defending itself against a global outcry and legislative and executive proposals to restrain its broad surveillance activities.
“My personal view is, yes, it’s worth having a conversation about,” Ledgett, who is under consideration to become the agency’s top civilian, said in an interview slated to air Sunday evening on 60 Minutes. “I would need assurances that the remainder of the data could be secured, and my bar for those assurances would be very high. It would be more than just an assertion on his part.”
Amnesty? Have they lost their minds? Snowden is a traitor to his country, who is responsible for the most damaging theft and release of classified information in American history. His actions have exposed not only the NSA terrorist surveillance programs, but our intelligence collection efforts against foreign governments, including Russia and China. He has aided our enemies, shared intelligence with potential adversaries, and has damaged our ability to defend against future terrorist attacks. Maybe we offer him life in prison instead of a firing squad, but amnesty? That would be insanity.
On NBC’s Meet the Press this Sunday, former CIA and NSA director Mike Hayden explained why amnesty would be a terrible idea:
I would strongly oppose that.. Look, I know there’s a great fear he’s got a lot more out there… I wouldn’t do it. I understand the attraction, but I wouldn’t do it because that simply motivates future Snowdens to do these kinds of things.
Exactly. If Edward Snowden can get amnesty after what he has done, then who could ever be prosecuted for any intelligence leak? How could we possibly pursue charges against leakers for individual disclosures, however damaging, when someone like Snowden is allowed to get away with the largest disclosure of critical intelligence in our history?
If anything, amnesty would encourage leakers to share more information. The lesson will be: if you leak, leak big and you can get away with it. The more damaging the disclosure the better your chances to get off scott free.
Amnesty for Snowden is a terrible idea.
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