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January 9, 2014 - 7:00am

Today's Poll: Should Edward Snowden receive a pardon?

posted by Howard B. Owens in polls.
Jeff Allen
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I think the things that Snowden uncovered may have had some value in exposing a need for safeguards from abusive government overreach, at the same time, I don't want every low level security tech looking at the next piece of intel that goes across a screen as their ticket to notoriety and prosperity. If a person perpetrates a major heist from a financial institution (stealing our money) and gets caught but it also exposes flaws in financial security that lead to major improvements in the industry (protecting our money in the future), should that person be pardoned?

Don Lovelace
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I voted NO!

I believe that to be pardoned, you have to be convicted of a crime.

To be convicted of a crime, you have to commit a crime.

Mr. Snowden has committed no crime, and therefore doesn't need to be pardoned.

Don Lovelace
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"My understanding is that espionage means giving secret or classified information to the enemy. Since Snowden shared information with the American people, his indictment for espionage could reveal (or confirm) that the US Government views you and me as the enemy." - Ron Paul

Mark Brudz
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If all that Snowden revealed was the Domestic side of data collection, I would have said give him a pardon, but what he revealed went far beyond that.

Don's assertion that no laws were broken, is patently wrong. A large portion of my military career was in Intelligence and pretty much everything is technically illegal to discuss outside of defined channels. That all said, it is technically illegal for the NSA to use it's resources domestically, even the author of the Patriot Act has come out strongly stating that what the NSA did domestically was not the intent or even the meat of the Patriot Act. It is with that, that a pardon on the release of information on the domestic side should be pardoned.

Anything released as far as foreign intelligence collection however, is inexcusable, even that of collection operations directed at current allies. There always has been a fine line in Intelligence between need to know and right to know, there always will be as far as foreign intelligence goes. What most laymen do not realize, it is not usually the information collected that is being protected, rather it is the source of that information or just how it was obtained.

Plainly speaking, Snowden willfully violated a series of laws that he was well aware of, regardless of his reasoning, it was still breaking the law. The revelation of domestic collection however, should be pardoned because it revealed the Government also breaking the law, anything and everything concerning foreign intelligence should not be pardoned.

Dave Olsen
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Sorry, Mark, plainly speaking, Snowden recognized a government repeatedly and strenuously violating the US Constitution. Specifically the 4th amendment. He may have broken rules, but not the law. I believe he has more evidence and it is worse than what has been revealed and it's the only reason he's still alive and will be the only reason he is allowed back into the country. If he ever is.

If your assertion about protecting collection methods is viable, then how come nothing happened to the people who outed Valerie Plame? I'm sure life became very uncomfortable for some people in other countries after that. How come nothing ever happened during the Clinton administration when nuclear warhead technology was passed to the Chinese? I'm not going to keep going back into history on these things, but there have been many.

It's a double standard, and it always has been. May God Bless Edward Snowden

Mark Potwora
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I'm with Dave on this one..He exposed NSA for being and over reaching spy agency..Not being held accountable to anyone..Why no outrage over the people who hired and over saw Snowden?

Mark Brudz
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Like I said Dave, the part of Snowden's revelations that specifically outed Constitutional violations should be pardoned, however, his actions were against the law, there are provisions for people who work in the intelligence field to bring violations to light, Snowden chose another path. This is a Technical violation of the law, plain and simple.

Now, those parts of his revelations in light of that should be pardoned as I stated. However, the information that he revealed about intelligence gathering on foreign nationals, including current allies is NOT against the constitution in anyway shape or form. That is my issue.

I can actually sympathize with him on not going through the structured whistle blower methods visa ve going to the press on the domestic issues, but any release of foreign operations to me is intolerable no matter how big or how small.

There is an acute difference

Mark Brudz
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And Dave, in my opinion the passing of that Nuclear Technology to the Chinese was even more damaging. One person and only one person outed Valerie Plame, that was Richard Armitage who served Presidents Clinton and Bush, he should have been fried in my opinion. I lost a great deal of respect for Colin Powell over that because he knew all along that was the case while Scooter Libby was being trounced on and political speculation ran unchecked.

This is about Snowden, not others, Snowden would have had my total support had not he released foreign intelligence information, That to me was really where the line was crossed by him.

Do not mistake my take on that in anyway as justification for the NSA conducting domestic spying operations, because I find that unconstitutional action appalling.

Again, even though Snowden was on the right side, the way he did it was illegal by the letter of the law, thus as I have expressed, he should be pardoned on the count of releasing the domestic spying info, the foreign intelligence part is an entire different story.

Mark Brudz
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Mark I am totally outraged at the very thought of hiring civilian contractors in the Intelligence community all together. That in itself provides an easy platform for over reach, however, that is also not illegal though poor judgment at the least.

There are some things that should never be outsourced. In the case of Snowden, while the outsourcing brought it to light, the outsourcing also contributed to the maize of unaccountability in the first place.

Dave Olsen
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In the bigger picture, if we weren't meddling in every other country's business, we wouldn't need nearly as much of an intelligence apparatus. We would need something for defense, but we both know its gone well well beyond that. Most of the foreign intelligence is trying to catch retaliation at us before it happens. We make a lot of our own problems. In My Humble Opinion.

Mark Brudz
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There is much merit to that statement Dave. We have also reached a point where technology is far outpacing ethics. The ease of which cries out for sound foreign and domestic policies, not to mention medical technology/policies as well.

Knowledge is the ultimate power and by the same end the ultimate weapon.

Dave Olsen
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I agree with you about his going around his chain of command. We would never have known about this. Guaranteed

Dave Olsen
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I do disagree with you about the "law breaking" .He broke the NSA's rules which went against the US Constitution, which IS the law. The NSA was formed and continues to operate via an executive order, it's a part of the executive branch and can be dissolved by another executive order. Their rules are not laws, the rest of the legal government just chooses to enforce those rules. I'm making it a lot simpler than it probably is, but at the core of my argument is an over reaching arrogance that pervades all of the federal and NYS government.

Mark Brudz
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The primary mission of the NSA is Cryptic Intelligence Gathering, (Decoding) it is a necessary component of national defense. It is a perishable skill, meaning you can not just turn the skill set on and off with the flip of a switch, it takes years of experience, technological research and practice.

It was actually created by the Defense Department in 1949 for the purpose of combining the resources of the State Department and Defense department

However, the guidelines under the UCMJ for military folks and US Title Code are approved by and in most cases drafted by congress, which makes them LAW regardless of whether or not the Agency itself was created by executive order or pentagon directive.

The 70's brought all intelligence Agencies, The Department of Energy and FEMA under the National Security Council which was created by executive order. After 9/11 that was again moved under the shell of Homeland Security - That is where the real problems began, because Federal Law Enforcement and our National Intelligence Apparatus began to operate under the same tent.

Dissolving the NSA would be foolish and dangerous because it is a crucial part of our National Defense Intelligence structure. Limiting it to its prescribed mission and Foreign Collection effort is not only prudent but for what the agency's entire structure was designed for.

The creation of The Homeland Security Agency and the Patriot Act are essentially the problem, for the moment Homeland Security was born, the shield between foreign and Domestic Intelligence began to rapidly deteriorate. The bureaucracy swelled and the risk to personal liberty exploded.

If any department should be dissolved and the process rethought, Homeland Security is the place to begin.

david spaulding
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Mr. Snowden only reinforced my belief that I can in NO way trust my government. Like everyone of my elected officials, my government are all liars. they will twist a story or make up some stupid title to an issue and lie to your face. I love my grandchildren but I feel sorry for them and the world they will have to live in..
Eric Snowden to me is a hero, I would like to see a parade for him. He has what my government doesn't and that is the ability to tell the truth..

Mark Brudz
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I thought about this some more Dave

What is important to remember, is who classified the information and why something is classified . In that sense, you are somewhat correct. This is another reason why The Department of Homeland Security and the Patriot Act are what I consider at the problems core. However, to pass that information, use that information or destroy that information without proper authority is in fact a crime, no matter how noble the reason.

Title 18: U.S. Code § 798 - Disclosure of classified information

Current through Pub. L. 113-52. (See Public Laws for the current Congress.)

(a) Whoever knowingly and willfully communicates, furnishes, transmits, or otherwise makes available to an unauthorized person, or publishes, or uses in any manner prejudicial to the safety or interest of the United States or for the benefit of any foreign government to the detriment of the United States any classified information—
(1) concerning the nature, preparation, or use of any code, cipher, or cryptographic system of the United States or any foreign government; or

(2) concerning the design, construction, use, maintenance, or repair of any device, apparatus, or appliance used or prepared or planned for use by the United States or any foreign government for cryptographic or communication intelligence purposes; or

(3) concerning the communication intelligence activities of the United States or any foreign government; or

(4) obtained by the processes of communication intelligence from the communications of any foreign government, knowing the same to have been obtained by such processes—
Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.

(b) As used in subsection (a) of this section—
The term “classified information” means information which, at the time of a violation of this section, is, for reasons of national security, specifically designated by a United States Government Agency for limited or restricted dissemination or distribution;

The terms “code,” “cipher,” and “cryptographic system” include in their meanings, in addition to their usual meanings, any method of secret writing and any mechanical or electrical device or method used for the purpose of disguising or concealing the contents, significance, or meanings of communications;

The term “foreign government” includes in its meaning any person or persons acting or purporting to act for or on behalf of any faction, party, department, agency, bureau, or military force of or within a foreign country, or for or on behalf of any government or any person or persons purporting to act as a government within a foreign country, whether or not such government is recognized by the United States;

The term “communication intelligence” means all procedures and methods used in the interception of communications and the obtaining of information from such communications by other than the intended recipients;

The term “unauthorized person” means any person who, or agency which, is not authorized to receive information of the categories set forth in subsection (a) of this section, by the President, or by the head of a department or agency of the United States Government which is expressly designated by the President to engage in communication intelligence activities for the United States.

(c) Nothing in this section shall prohibit the furnishing, upon lawful demand, of information to any regularly constituted committee of the Senate or House of Representatives of the United States of America, or joint committee thereof.

(d)
(1) Any person convicted of a violation of this section shall forfeit to the United States irrespective of any provision of State law—
(A) any property constituting, or derived from, any proceeds the person obtained, directly or indirectly, as the result of such violation; and

(B) any of the person’s property used, or intended to be used, in any manner or part, to commit, or to facilitate the commission of, such violation.

(2) The court, in imposing sentence on a defendant for a conviction of a violation of this section, shall order that the defendant forfeit to the United States all property described in paragraph (1).

(3) Except as provided in paragraph (4), the provisions of subsections (b), (c), and (e) through (p) ofsection 413 of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 (21 U.S.C. 853 (b), (c), and (e)–(p)), shall apply to—
(A) property subject to forfeiture under this subsection;

(B) any seizure or disposition of such property; and

(C) any administrative or judicial proceeding in relation to such property,

if not inconsistent with this subsection.

(4) Notwithstanding section 524 (c) of title 28, there shall be deposited in the Crime Victims Fund established under section 1402 of the Victims of Crime Act of 1984 (42 U.S.C. 10601) all amounts from the forfeiture of property under this subsection remaining after the payment of expenses for forfeiture and sale authorized by law.

(5) As used in this subsection, the term “State” means any State of the United States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and any territory or possession of the United States.

Dave Olsen
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That's alot to read, there Mark. I may not get through it all until morning. LOL
ADD is a bitch.

"Somewhat correct" Did that hurt?

I agree about Homeland Security and The Patriot Act. Too much bureaucracy and overreach, absolutely no doubt.

I'll get back to you on the rest........................................

I had to live through the Jonathan Pollard and John Walker sweat exercises when I was in the Navy. I have read and signed off on most of this gobbeldy gook

Dave Olsen
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U S Code is subordinate to the US Constitution. So I guess only the Supreme Court of The US can decide if Snowden is guilty or not. I doubt they will take it up, can't have folks deciding for themselves to disregard corrupt laws and live by the real law.

Mark Brudz
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The US Constitution provides that Congress passes laws

US Code is passed by Congress, ergo is Law

Until such time as a Law is challenged in the Supreme Court, it is in fact not only Law but Constitutional. If the Supreme Court rules a Law unconstitutional, then it in fact becomes Unconstitutional and is no longer a law.

You can argue that Snowden was morally right, you can argue that with great confidence, you can also argue that the Government is beyond the intent of the constitution on this with my full agreement, but you can not simply declare that he did not break the law based on a passionate belief in what he did on a constitutional basis.

If you truly believe in the constitution, you can not pick and choose which part that you support, and the fact is that taking the information obtained by the NSA and releasing it publically goes beyond simply taking an oath, it was against the law.

Like I said repeatedly through out this thread, if Snowden had just made public the Domestic Spying angle, I would have whole heartedly supported a pardon regardless if he violated the law because I believe that he was morally right with that, however, he went beyond that one in that he fled to a foreign shore to do so, and more importantly he on a foreign shore made public aspects of intelligence collection on foreign governments which is clearly detrimental to national security and US global interest.

Dave Olsen
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Mark, you know that if he had only leaked domestic spying, the foreign media such as The Guardian might not have been interested, the lame stream government controlled US media would have ignored or misrepresented it, and he would never get a fair trial. It would have been an internet thing and his supporters would been called tin-foil hat wearing nutballs. He had to leave the country, he had to have foreign media exposing the truth and they needed evidence of foreign spying. That was the only way to get credibility.

As for the Constitution, I don't pick and choose which parts to follow. I just don't like double standards. How is it OK for a government official to leak intelligence for whatever purpose, but not a private citizen? Snowden just played their game and that makes the big boys unhappy.

Mark Brudz
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It is not ok for the Government to leak things Dave unless they declassify it first, Many, and I mean many people have been fired, fined and or jailed for leaking over the years, but that isn't usually news unless it is a Pollard type.

The Guardian and I bet several news outlets would have jumped on the domestic leaks alone, I am willing to bet on that. That story in itself would be to big smother. A do not forget, Snowden negotiated with the Guardian to get him to Hong Cong in the first place, why? Because he knew damn well what he was doing was illegal and that shows it be a willful disregard for the law and a conscious action to avoid prosecution.

Snowden did a good and brave thing to bring to light domestic spying, had not he divulged foreign Intelligence operations, I would actually join you in considering him a hero and although still illegal I would find it quite pardonable, but he didn't stop there and in my book when he didn't stop he crossed the line. Also, as politically charged as this nation is right now, had he gone through proper channels, I am also willing to bet some opposing Congressmen or Senator would have still found a way to make this public. Follow the money Dave, I am not so convinced that Snowden is as noble as you may think.

Do you really think the Russians would have given him a computer security job in light of what he did without some trade of information?

david spaulding
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Mr Snowden ran for his life.. do you really think he'd still be alive if the government took custody of him? I don't, and I believe that the first chance the U.S. gets, he'll be dead.... kill the messenger is the politics of the U.S.

Mark Brudz
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Be careful David, those black helicopters know their way around Batavia too.

Dave Olsen
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Presidents, Senators, cabinet secretaries etc have routinely leaked classified information for political reasons for a long long time, Mark. Nothing happens to them and its a big joke. Peoples lives have been ruined and even ended for nothing more than some jackass proving a point or making a political gain. It is absolutely hypocritical to prosecute Snowden. Argue for the continuation of the status quo all you want, it's still a double standard and I will not ever support that.

Mark Brudz
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You are a good man Dave, but we're now beating dead horses

Ed Hartgrove
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Careful, Mark. I've heard they hang dead-horse beaters - or some such drivel.

Frank Bartholomew
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If our govt. would set the example for following the laws, this story would not have been told. With that being said, pardon Snowden, or place charges against the govt..

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