Obama should pardon Edward Snowden

Though, if it were me (as POTUS), I might wait until after the midterm elections, so as not to make a big political deal about it, for everybody else.

Though, if it were me (as POTUS), I might wait until after the midterm elections, so as not to make a big political deal about it, for everybody else.
Good thinking. I agree. Lois

I doubt very much that this will ever happen, but I’ve been wrong before. I personally view Snowden as a self aggrandizing opportunist, not a warrior for truth. He exposed something that only the very naive could truly find shocking. Governments have always spied and compiled masses of secret information and probably always will, and no actual case of the information gathered being used in a nefarious manner has come to pass. The panic has all been a matter of “but what if?”… “What if scenarios” are not news, but that doesn’t keep the media from whipping up paranoia about every new release of information. The reality is average citizens have never been in control of their personal information in the manner people want to believe they should have control of it. I doubt we will any time soon, either.

Handydan said:
>>>I doubt very much that this will ever happen, but I’ve been wrong before. I personally view Snowden as a self aggrandizing opportunist, not a warrior for truth. He exposed something that only the very naive could truly find shocking. Governments have always spied and compiled masses of secret information and probably always will, and no actual case of the information gathered being used in a nefarious manner has come to pass. The panic has all been a matter of “but what if?"… “What if scenarios" are not news, but that doesn’t keep the media from whipping up paranoia about every new release of information. The reality is average citizens have never been in control of their personal information in the manner people want to believe they should have control of it. I doubt we will any time soon, either.<<<
Me:
Hello Handydan. I agree with most of what you said, but I must say, it all seems rather defeatist. You mention that “no actual case of the information gathered being used in a nefarious manner has come to pass” which is kind of true and kind of not. The U.S.–particularly the CIA and the FBI–has a sordid history of using its surveillance power to try and blackmail or harass voices of dissent into silence. This seems to have been standard operating procedure during the protest movement against the Vietnam War.
Particularly egregious was the FBI’s not-so-subtle suggestion to Martin Luther King that he should commit suicide in order to avoid his wife and the world finding out about his infidelities:
http://news.rapgenius.com/Federal-bureau-of-investigation-suicide-letter-to-martin-luther-king-jr-annotated
And this was when the Federal government’s surveillance capabilities were exponentially less than what they are today. The fact is, most Americans born withing the last 25 years will probably have something embarrassing in their phone or Web browsing history that could be easily accessed by the NSA or some other intelligence agency–embarrassing things that Vietnam era Americans would not have had to worry about, and that intelligence agencies would not have been able to discover anyway.
I’m talking primarily about sex-related “embarrassing things” such as calls to phone sex services, viewing of internet pornography, or online purchases of pornography or other sex-related items. I know this all sounds a bit silly, but the potential for blackmail is overwhelming. How many legislators or Federal court justices would be willing to vote a certain way just to avoid their spouse or the general public finding out about that one drunken night when they downloaded that “Hot Shemale on Shemale Action!” video. Again, I know it sounds a bit silly, but it seems like a very real possibility to me. Actually, it seems inevitable.
And it doesn’t even have to be about sex. Who hasn’t written something stupid or even racist or sexist-sounding in a chat room or discussion forum–particularly when they were young and immature? The point is, all this stuff is now part of everybody’s indelible permanent record. Such off color moments from our pasts are no longer just hearsay like they used to be, they’re etched in stone. And anyone who thinks that a blackmailer in an agency like the NSA can’t pull this dirt up on anybody they want to whenever it suits their purposes is naive at best.
And lest you think that this is just a paranoid fantasy, I refer you again to the FBI/Martin Luther King incident. It’s really quite chilling to think what they could do (and perhaps already are doing) now.
Or am I just crazy?

I doubt very much that this will ever happen, but I've been wrong before. I personally view Snowden as a self aggrandizing opportunist, not a warrior for truth. He exposed something that only the very naive could truly find shocking. Governments have always spied and compiled masses of secret information and probably always will, and no actual case of the information gathered being used in a nefarious manner has come to pass. The panic has all been a matter of "but what if?".... "What if scenarios" are not news, but that doesn't keep the media from whipping up paranoia about every new release of information. The reality is average citizens have never been in control of their personal information in the manner people want to believe they should have control of it. I doubt we will any time soon, either.
We've never lived in a time with so much information being available, the control of that information is very important for personal safety and freedom. Also given human nature, when any one group gains access to power over another group they almost always seek to exploit it for their benefit, it's why the US political system was set up the way it was and why personal freedoms were guaranteed. If agencies with little control or oversight can effectively penetrate any barrier that protects personal and overall political freedom, then the question becomes, "Is there any real freedom left?". And I think Snowden represents the true nature of America far more than the politicians and secret police that are turning the nation into something far different than was intended.

No, Bugrib you are not crazy.

Fuzzy, the freedom you refer to has been a myth since before you or I were born

Fuzzy, the freedom you refer to has been a myth since before you or I were born
But never before in history has the Federal government been able to invade our lives as it can now. Modern electronic and computer surveillance does make a difference. It can get into every aspect of our lives, every word we say and write, every penny we have saved or invested and everything we own, inherit or buy. It can detect what we say and do even in the privacy of our homes. We had a lot more freedom--and privacy--before modern surveillance abilities. It can and should be restricted and controlled. Lois

Handydan, Here’s a chilling example of the surveillance capabilities and strong-arm tactics inuse today by the FBI. Still think there’s no difference in our freedom now than before you or I were born?
Secrets, lies and Snowden’s email: why I was forced to shut down Lavabit
For the first time, the founder of an encrypted email startup that was supposed to insure privacy for all reveals how the FBI and the US legal system made sure we don’t have the right to much privacy in the first place
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over encryption keys
Glenn Greenwald: the state targets dissenters not ‘bad guys’
Ladar Levison
theguardian.com, Tuesday 20 May 2014 07.30 EDT
My legal saga started last summer with a knock at the door, behind which stood two federal agents ready to to serve me with a court order requiring the installation of surveillance equipment on my company’s network.
My company, Lavabit, provided email services to 410,000 people – including Edward Snowden, according to news reports – and thrived by offering features specifically designed to protect the privacy and security of its customers. I had no choice but to consent to the installation of their device, which would hand the US government access to all of the messages – to and from all of my customers – as they travelled between their email accounts other providers on the Internet.
But that wasn’t enough. The federal agents then claimed that their court order required me to surrender my company’s private encryption keys, and I balked. What they said they needed were customer passwords – which were sent securely – so that they could access the plain-text versions of messages from customers using my company’s encrypted storage feature. (The government would later claim they only made this demand because of my “noncompliance”.)
Bothered by what the agents were saying, I informed them that I would first need to read the order they had just delivered – and then consult with an attorney. The feds seemed surprised by my hesitation.
What ensued was a flurry of legal proceedings that would last 38 days, ending not only my startup but also destroying, bit by bit, the very principle upon which I founded it – that we all have a right to personal privacy.
In the first two weeks, I was served legal papers a total of seven times and was in contact with the FBI every other day. (This was the period a prosecutor would later characterize as my “period of silence”.) It took a week for me to identify an attorney who could adequately represent me, given the complex technological and legal issues involved – and we were in contact for less than a day when agents served me with a summons ordering me to appear in a Virginia courtroom, over 1,000 miles from my home. Two days later, I was served the first subpoena for the encryption keys.
With such short notice, my first attorney was unable to appear alongside me in court. Because the whole case was under seal, I couldn’t even admit to anyone who wasn’t an attorney that I needed a lawyer, let alone why. In the days before my appearance, I would spend hours repeating the facts of the case to a dozen attorneys, as I sought someone else that was qualified to represent me. I also discovered that as a third party in a federal criminal indictment, I had no right to counsel. After all, only my property was in jeopardy – not my liberty. Finally, I was forced to choose between appearing alone or facing a bench warrant for my arrest.
In Virginia, the government replaced its encryption key subpoena with a search warrant and a new court date. I retained a small, local law firm before I went back to my home state, which was then forced to assemble a legal strategy and file briefs in just a few short days. The court barred them from consulting outside experts about either the statutes or the technology involved in the case. The court didn’t even deliver transcripts of my first appearance to my own lawyers for two months, and forced them to proceed without access to the information they needed.
Then, a federal judge entered an order of contempt against me – without even so much as a hearing.
But the judge created a loophole: without a hearing, I was never given the opportunity to object, let alone make any any substantive defense, to the contempt change. Without any objection (because I wasn’t allowed a hearing), the appellate court waived consideration of the substantive questions my case raised – and upheld the contempt charge, on the grounds that I hadn’t disputed it in court. Since the US supreme court traditionally declines to review decided on wholly procedural grounds, I will be permanently denied justice.
In the meantime, I had a hard decision to make. I had not devoted 10 years of my life to building Lavabit, only to become complicit in a plan which I felt would have involved the wholesale violation of my customers’ right to privacy. Thus with no alternative, the decision was obvious: I had to shut down my company.
The largest technological question we raised in our appeal (which the courts refused to consider) was what constitutes a “search”, i.e., whether law enforcement can demand the encryption keys of a business and use those keys to inspect the private communications of every customer, even when the court has only authorized them to access information belonging to specific targets.
The problem here is technological: until any communication has been decrypted and the contents parsed, it is currently impossible for a surveillance device to determine which network connections belong to any given suspect. The government argued that, since the “inspection” of the data was to be carried out by a machine, they were exempt from the normal search-and-seizure protections of the Fourth Amendment.
More importantly for my case, the prosecution also argued that my users had no expectation of privacy, even though the service I provided – encryption – is designed for users’ privacy.
If my experience serves any purpose, it is to illustrate what most already know: courts must not be allowed to consider matters of great importance under the shroud of secrecy, lest we find ourselves summarily deprived of meaningful due process. If we allow our government to continue operating in secret, it is only a matter of time before you or a loved one find yourself in a position like I did – standing in a secret courtroom, alone, and without any of the meaningful protections that were always supposed to be the people’s defense against an abuse of the state’s power.

Fuzzy, the freedom you refer to has been a myth since before you or I were born
It's never been perfect, that's not the same thing as saying it hasn't existed. It's encoded in the founding document of the nation and when asserted can be very powerful in protecting individual rights and freedoms, that doesn't mean it doesn't come without costs. Real freedom is very expensive, but even more expensive in the end is allowing it to be taken.

I have removed this post because it is a duplicate. When I tried to post it I kept receiving a notice that it could not be posted (no reason given) so, thinking it might be too long, I broke it into two parts. After it appeared I noticed that the original post did go through. Go figure.
Lois

Fuzzy, the freedom you refer to has been a myth since before you or I were born
But never before in history has the Federal government been able to invade our lives as it can now. Modern electronic and computer surveillance does make a difference. It can get into every aspect of our lives, every word we say and write, every penny we have saved or invested and everything we own, inherit or buy. It can detect what we say and do even in the privacy of our homes. We had a lot more freedom--and privacy--before modern surveillance abilities. It can and shoukd be restricted and controlled. Lois Once again, very well put.

Original post removed. See above.

The FBI has a substantial history of abusing its powers of investigation.
https://www.eff.org/issues/foia/07656JDB

Before the USA PATRIOT Act the FBI could only use so-called National Security Letters for securing the records of suspected terrorists or spies. But under PATRIOT the FBI can use them to get telephone Internet financial credit and other personal records about anybody without any court approval as long as it believes the information could be relevant to an authorized terrorism or espionage investigation. From the moment PATRIOT was passed we said the NSL power was ripe for abuse and unconstitutional and in March 2007 the Department of Justice's inspector general released a report confirming extensive misuse of NSLs in a sample of four FBI field offices. An internal audit by the FBI confirmed that the problem was far more extensive than first thought.

Even if Snowden’s motives were, in some part, as suggested “self aggrandizement”, his actions were a service to the American people, in that our government’s need to balance privacy intrusions vs. national security issues is severely out of balance, in favor of the latter.
It has been said that “No good dead goes unpunished.” IMO, Snowden has been punished enough by having to flee to Russia to avoid imprisonment in his own country. It is clear that we can not trust our own government in the matter of keeping secrets from it’s citizens by simply justifying such as matters of national security. The government is run by humans who may keep secrets, at times, not for national security purposes so much as for purposes of protecting themselves or other interests. There is no effective oversight in these matters. Congressional oversight has been ineffective. Whistleblowers should be protected, but the mechanisms for this to happen have also been inadequate.
A pardon of Snowden, the current iconic whistleblower, would be a message to government agencies that hide behind “national security” issues, that abuses of the privacy of the general citizenry may not go on, willy-nilly, without potential specific exposure.

First, let’s be realistic, there’s no way the government would parden Snowden for breaking their laws. Second, yes, it’s disgusting what the government spying gathers from us citizens and from the other governments in the world. However, all the major and many minor governments now have similar capabilities, and I doubt that any of them is mediating their behavior based on morality. Privacy is rapidly becoming a thing of the past, everywhere, and not just with governments, but also by communication companies, advertising companies, and many other producers.
While we citizens haven’t caught up, I predict that within another ten or fifteen years, everyone will have powerful capabilities of spying on everyone else. When this comes to pass bribery and many other political transgressions will have to come to a screeching halt. And, even more important is that our present society which is still built to a large degree on personal privacy will have to undergo a major change. Thank goodness I won’t be around to suffer through that change, but I wish you youngsters luck. :lol:
Occam

Our government’s surveillance institutions have a long history of operating as though they are above the laws of our nation, constitutional or otherwise. They pretty much started behaving this way upon their inception. In fact, in a very real sense, they were setup for that very purpose. Just because they didn’t have as much easy access to our personal information in those days is not the same as having a guaranteed the right to privacy. I am simply saying that I consider it very naive to rely on our laws as they are, or even as they should be to protect your privacy. The right to privacy is a wonderful and worthy ideal. I don’t think it is ever truly achieved however.
The suggestion that a pardon for Snowden would send a message to government agencies makes no sense. Why would the government feel the need to send a message to itself? They can not continue to defend surveillance programs “and” slap their own hand for running surveillance programs. Snowden will only be pardoned “after” a vast paradigm shift by the government away from surveillance programs, and I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

I think Snowden is getting exactly what he deserves. I hope he is never pardoned. He broke the law then he didn’t even stick around to test the waters. He ran to our two biggest antagonists with tera-bytes of State Secrets. Years ago that would have openly reeked of outright treason.
He should consider himself lucky enough there are enough people who are caught up in the whole “Big Brother” scare who sympathize with him.
And enough politicians who speak out of both sides of their mouths who are willing to pander to these either “Libertarian Types” or Neo-Liberals.
As far as I can tell they are only trying to prevent another massive terrorist attack that kills thousands of people.
I don’t think they care if one of you is cheating on your spouse or has a large collection of Gay Trucker Porn.
Handy Dan and Occam have made completely relevant points regarding the history of espionage and the proliferation of it by nations around the world.

First, let's be realistic, there's no way the government would parden Snowden for breaking their laws... Occam
No one in the government has to pardon Snowden, except one man. The President.
I think Snowden is getting exactly what he deserves. I hope he is never pardoned. He broke the law then he didn't even stick around to test the waters. He ran to our two biggest antagonists with tera-bytes of State Secrets. Years ago that would have openly reeked of outright treason. He should consider himself lucky enough there are enough people who are caught up in the whole "Big Brother" scare who sympathize with him. And enough politicians who speak out of both sides of their mouths who are willing to pander to these either "Libertarian Types" or Neo-Liberals. As far as I can tell they are only trying to prevent another massive terrorist attack that kills thousands of people. I don't think they care if one of you is cheating on your spouse or has a large collection of Gay Trucker Porn. Handy Dan and Occam have made completely relevant points regarding the history of espionage and the proliferation of it by nations around the world.
I thought that things "Orwellian" bothered you. Today the marital infidels and closet-gay-trucker-porn-aficionados may be the ones in fear of their privacy invasions. Tomorrow it may be the intellectuals who dare to think or privately say things other than what is mandated by the State. But as Occam says, just worry about today, as many of us won't be alive, probably, by the time things get that bad. Our security today is more important than the freedom of the young and their children, etc. Sorry, Viasma and Occam, my idealism extends to people that I don't know and to people who will be alive long after I'm gone. Is it just impotent idealism? Maybe. But actualized reality has a funny way of being preceded by ideals or by cynicism. The proliferation of espionage on a State's own citizenry is the problem. It has been said so often, that it seems trite, that those who would give up liberty for the sake of security, deserve neither. Is that true? I don't know. But as an ideal, it sounds right. Does Snowden deserve to be pardoned? Maybe not. But in my possibly naïve opinion, the ideals that I would hope my country stands for, deserve for Snowden to be pardoned.