The Obama administration dispelled any doubts in the debate over Edward Snowden’s future as it regards the US. Rejecting the notion that he is in any way a hero, the administration called for the former NSA contractor to ’’be judged by a jury of his peers” for disclosing classified information.
This would seem to be an attempt by the White House to dampen recent discussions that would portray the reclusive leaker in a favorable, even patriotic light that has been the most prevalent tone of late. Articles in this space over the past year have entertained such favorable outcomes for him up to and including pardon. Today’s WH rhetoric is seen as an attempt to quell such talk perhaps in response to a petition on t he White House website signed by more than 167,00 people.
Lisa Monaco, an advisor on homeland security and counterterrorism, said
Snowden’s “dangerous decision to steal and disclose classified information had severe consequences for the security of our country and the people who work day in and day out to protect it.” She accused Snowden of seeking to evade punishment for his actions and cowering from them. “If he felt his actions were consistent with civil disobedience, then he should do what those who have taken issue with their own government do: challenge it, speak out, engage in a constructive act of protest, and — importantly — accept the consequences of his actions,” she wrote. “He should come home to the United States, and be judged by a jury of his peers — not hide behind the cover of an authoritarian regime.”
This is the latest effort by the administration to play catch-up and perhaps regain the political high ground it surrendered after the initial disclosure of the leaks. President Obama famously dismissed Snowden as an inept and his revelations valueless. After the events of the past two years, we now know otherwise, and Snowden has been a thorn in the side of the administration constantly reeling from appearing to be played by Putin at seemingly every turn. In this latest salvo, the WH casts him as a hacker and traitor. That he has been nominated for the Nobel Prize a second time must be particularly galling for the President, who sees this as diminishing his own recognition as a Nobel laureate. Apparently, the prize isn’t what it used to be.
The administration would like to nip in the bud any sympathy for Snowden or any momentum that may be building in his favor. The petition purports that Snowden should be exonerated saying:
“Edward Snowden is a national hero and should be immediately issued a full, free, and absolute pardon for any crimes he has committed or may have committed related to blowing the whistle on secret NSA surveillance programs.”
It is unlikely that Snowden will emerge unscathed from this scenario. Then again it must be acknowledged that any semblance of recent surveillance reform and the debate swirling around it would not have happened were it not for Snowden’s disclosures. And an administration that had been running roughshod over privacy issues would have continued unabated and with impunity. That may not be worth much in the eyes of a court, but it counts mightily in the court of public opinion- a venue that this president operates almost exclusively, to the detriment of actual leadership.