Edward Snowden is perhaps one of the most controversial figures in recent history.
To some, he is a treasonous criminal who should be brought to justice, a real Benedict Arnold. To others, he is a national hero. To me, he is a model of what it means to be a true patriot.
For those who don’t know, Snowden worked for the National Security Agency and leaked a massive amount of confidential documents in 2013, detailing extensive government surveillance programs.
These leaked documents were handed directly to three journalists who worked for The Guardian and The Washington Post. These publications, as well as a few others, published a multitude of articles exposing the leaked files. They revealed a comprehensive surveillance program run by the United States government.
Currently, Snowden now presides somewhere in Russia, where he has been granted asylum. He is unable to return to his home country because his own country — the one he worked so hard to protect — sees him as a traitor.
Let’s bring Snowden home.
This topic has become increasingly relevant in the past several weeks with the release of the movie “Snowden” and President Barack Obama’s shrinking time left in office.
Obama is the only person who has the power to allow Snowden to return home without being jailed through the use of presidential pardon. Because of this, we are seeing increasing volumes of requests for Obama to pardon Snowden.
The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, the Los Angeles Times and The Intercept — keep in mind this is a very brief list — have all published columns asking for Obama to do so.
Yes, Snowden broke the law. Yes, he was probably the worst employee the NSA could have imagined or will ever have. However, there are times where it is acceptable to break the law in order to expose unlawful or immoral activity. Our entire country is based on this line of thinking.
Unfortunately, not everyone sees it that way.
President Obama certainly doesn’t. He has a history of denouncing Snowden’s actions, and it doesn’t appear he is going to loosen up on this stance any time soon. This is a shame because, again, he has the sole power to completely pardon Snowden and allow him to return home.
Even a great many citizens are against Snowden. The nation is divided on the issue. I hear fairly often people saying they see nothing wrong with the government’s surveillance in the first place, making them see Snowden simply as a criminal who should be put to trial and judged by a jury of peers.
If Snowden were to be tried in court, there is no way he would emerge as a free man.
By definition, he broke the law. There isn’t much of a case to be made there, as I doubt the context of Snowden’s actions would sway the jury’s decision, especially if the jury largely consists of people who see no problem with government surveillance.
As much as I’d like to believe the jury would consist of citizens of different stances on the issue, I don’t. I don’t trust the system enough to believe Snowden would be tried fairly since he is very much disliked among government officials.
Whether you agree with Snowden or not, he did expose government activity that was illegal. Granted, not everything leaked revealed illegal activity — some of it was legal, although still quite scummy in nature — but either way, it cannot be argued the government was not also in the wrong.
So, essentially, we have this situation where Snowden is technically in the wrong and so is our government. Neither sides are in the right. With this is mind, I don’t believe it is fair for the government to try Snowden.
Of course, the government will certainly still try to do so and will probably catch Snowden at some point. Snowden himself has stated he’s bound to be caught somewhere along the line.
The conspiracy theorist in me is coming out a little, but the way I see it, the government wants to grab Snowden and silence him for making them look bad. This isn’t so much about the law.
Only time will tell how Snowden’s legacy will turn out. In my personal opinion, Snowden’s actions shed light on the beginning of the end for the United States. That is a discussion for a different time, though.
For now, I wholeheartedly believe Snowden deserves to return home to his friends and family, at the very least.
Obama is really our only hope of this ever happening, considering how the leading 2016 presidential candidates have been quite adamant on Snowden being a traitor.
We should show respect and gratitude for this man who risked his life for the good of his country, not contempt and flippancy.
Bring Snowden home.