The trial should be the other way around - The People Suing the US Government. The top lawyer representing the people? Edward.
Standing is tough, because you can factually know that millions of people are being spied on this way, but if you can’t prove you suffered damages, no standing for you. This was one of the key issues that kept the no fly list alive for so long.
The second arises from the concept of sovereign immunity. The government is essentially immune from lawsuits unless they grant specific permission to sue, or there’s an existing law that says you can sue.
Schoolhouse Rock's presentation was very selective.
Assuming we trust that Snowden acted based on the motivation he stated, it's plausible that he destroyed his copy of the documents before traveling to Russia.
However, once there, and stuck in that holding cell for weeks, completely in the hands of Russia, I can't see how he'd withstand the pressure to give them what he still had and couldn't get rid of - the knowledge in his head. (But keep in mind that the US brought the "Snowden in Russian hands" situation upon themselves by cancelling his passport.)
I also can't see how the newspapers would be able to keep the documents secret from a foreign intelligence agency. Such a high-value secret stored and handled in a dozen different places, by people who only have a short opsec training, limited understanding, and few resources and little support to establish effective security...
Not saying Snowden shouldn't have done it; his revelations showed massive illegal spying by the NSA, and triggered (some, not sufficient but better than nothing) reforms. But claiming no harm seems a stretch.
A newspaper that must hand over any data it has to the Chinese government upon request but is already fully surveiled by that government anyway, as anybody (even a high school dropout) can figure out.
> This article also makes no mention of this information being used as an attempt to gain asylum in Hong Kong.
He made it clear that he was attempting to gain asylum in Hong Kong (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jun/12/edward-snowden...). What reason does he have to divulge details of the NSA's (not illegal) hacking of Chinese infrastructure other than to try to help his case?
> Snowden said he was releasing the information to demonstrate "the hypocrisy of the US government when it claims that it does not target civilian infrastructure, unlike its adversaries".
“It’s no secret that we hack China very aggressively,” he says. “But we’ve crossed lines. We’re hacking universities and hospitals and wholly civilian infrastructure rather than actual government targets and military targets. And that’s a real concern.”
I don't think that you can in good conscience argue that the NSA has been open and clear about their attacks on foreign civilian targets. The Obama administration repeatedly attempted to draw a line between the sort of hacking the US performed, for national security reasons, and the kind of "cyber espionage" that China and Russia were undertaking.
What matters is whether the disclosure helped more than it hurt. I think the jury's out on that until either the next major terror attack or the US pardons Snowden.
I also think that the following are two very different questions:
1. Is what Edward Snowden did legal?
2. Is what Edward Snowden did ethical?
It's dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.
But Snowden can provide evidence that whistleblowing would not work as way to provide evidence of wrongdooings. Other global surveillance whistleblowers received punitive treatment (William Binney, Ed Loomis, and J. Kirk Wiebe, Thomas A. Drake).
He committed political crime and if he is judged by his peers in open court they can take that into account.
The follow on question is whether the law is constitutional.
So far the government hasn't agreed that it is unconstitutional, and the USA Freedom act is a result of the interpreted language, see:
ACLU v Clapper
Klayman v Obama
Jewel V NSA
A number of people have suggested that at least some of the programs he revealed were illegally classified to conceal their own illegality (and at least one was found to be illegal in one of the court cases fueled by the revelations), and that no lawful prosecution can proceed for revealing material illegally classified in that way.
It's also rather disappointing that it will be harder to cite him and be taken seriously on other issues where his commentary is more relevant and correct. The FSF and GNU are good things. To have the founder seen as pro pedophile is not a good look.
Here's (http://stallman.org/archives/2012-nov-feb.html#04_January_20...) him in 2013:
> There is little evidence to justify the widespread assumption that willing participation in pedophilia hurts children.
and 2006 (https://www.stallman.org/archives/2006-may-aug.html#05%20Jun...):
> I am sceptical of the claim that voluntarily pedophilia harms children.
Defending someone like Epstein is hardly off-brand here.
11 August 2019:
Jeffrey Epstein ... He also reportedly raped some of those people. I believe those accusations, and I think he deserved to be imprisoned.
14 September 2019:
I want to respond to the misleading media coverage of messages I posted about Marvin Minsky's association with Jeffrey Epstein. The coverage totally mischaracterised my statements.
Headlines say that I defended Epstein. Nothing could be further from the truth. I've called him a "serial rapist", and said he deserved to be imprisoned. But many people now believe I defended him — and other inaccurate claims — and feel a real hurt because of what they believe I said.
Apparently, neither happened.
The material provided in the Daily Beast article is obviously a defense of Minsky, not Epstein. The article was journalistic incompetence. You can criticize what RMS said, judge him harshly for it, but it was not a defense of Epstein.
Still it shows, at best, questionable judgement to have said those things in the first place.
> Many years ago I posted that I could not see anything wrong about sex between an adult and a child, if the child accepted it.
> Through personal conversations in recent years, I've learned to understand how sex with a child can harm per psychologically. This changed my mind about the matter: I think adults should not do that. I am grateful for the conversations that enabled me to understand why.
That's a bit like saying that since we proved the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus, that we can now throw away all proofs of it and simply assert it.
If it took civilization a long time to figure out that slavery is wrong, or that children can't consent to sex, then it's an error that people will continually fall into; every new person that is born needs to be taught not only that those things are true, but why those things are true.
"Settled" should not mean that there is a clear, concise description of exactly why something is wrong to point somebody to and / or repeat every time someone asks. It should not mean, "We shout down and ostracize anyone who asks, 'OK, but why?'"
This doesn't mean, to me, that we should condemn those who have historically stated things that are not aligned to those morals. I'm unequivocally not arguing in support of pedophilia I'm arguing against shutting down free discussion and open transference of ideas.
In fact, we should celebrate that rms has/had actually been open with these statements. Speech should not be restricted, in my (admittedly very liberal) viewpoint.
- Richard "Free as in Candy" Stallman
Obama is way smarter than anybody asking for clemency for Snowden.
> perhaps Obama had good reason not pardon Snowden
> the damage Snowden did was worse than his advocates are willing to acknowledge
The damage he did is precisely why his advocates want him pardoned.
He damaged people who were subverting the US constitution. He provided the evidence for this.
Some us think the organizations he damaged were/are acting against our democratic institutions, and therefore the damage is welcome. He not getting granted a pardon would seem to us as evidence that these anti-democratic, anti-bill of rights forces are deeply connected to the highest levels of government.
But the key here is how you perceive the people who are subverting our liberty. Welcome anti-terrorist agents? Or anti-democratic shadow agents with the capacity to implement turn key dictatorship?
Given how his administration treated Chelsea Manning idk why we'd expect that.
Twice of nearly nothing is still nearly nothing... and the claim being made here was that Manning, specifically, was mistreated by Obama. Manning was convicted under Bush and had her sentence commuted by Obama; I'm dubious that the specific case can be taken as "Obama mean to Manning".
What kind of revisionist history is this? She didn't whistleblow until 2010. She wasn't convicted until 2013. Hell she wasn't even assigned to intelligence under Bush.
I remember arguing with my family (lifelong Democratic party members who aren't as leftist as me) that she was fulfilling Obama's transparency promises for him. Promises it was clear he wouldn't be keeping as early as the Telco immunity bill during the 08 primary.
In the closing days of the administration, and with the anonymous officials they sent out to explain the decision sharply contrasting Manning's case with Snowden's.
So, again, the treatment of Manning even including the commutation as Obama was on the way out provided no reason to expect anything but a cold shoulder to Snowden.
It is to his credit that he made that particular wrong right by commuting her sentence, but as others pointed out his administration did everything in their power to differentiate that from Snowden.
I think it's easy to look back fondly on his Presidency in comparison to the travesty we see today, but Obama was not a good person.
As far as doubling down on surveillance, Snowden's leaks showed that Obama shut down surveillance programs that might include Americans' data, including email envelope collection. He did not start any such programs.
While I respect his motivations for doing it, smuggling classified info out of a secure facility on a memory card hidden in a Rubik's cube is a crime. A fair trial won't change that.
He can do a lot more good staying free and sharing his viewpoints, versus rotting in a Federal facility for years.
The one thing that clouds this a bit is that the US government cannot constitutionally rule that someone has committed a crime without going through a jury trial. This means that there can never be summary judgement against a criminal defendant (it's mostly a civil litigation thing). Some interpret this as an attempt to explicitly create room for jury nullification. Others interpret this as an attempt to make sure that we never short-circuit the fact finding process in the name of expediency. In practice, it has both of these effects, but there's some debate as to which one is the theoretical grounding.
- At least to the extent that humans can ever either establish a fact or reduce bias
Jury nullification in the United States
"In 1972, in United States v. Dougherty, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued a ruling similar to Moylan that affirmed the de facto power of a jury to nullify the law but upheld the denial of the defense's chance to instruct the jury about the power to nullify. However, in Dougherty the then-chief judge David L. Bazelon authored a dissenting in part opinion, arguing that the jury should be instructed about their power to render the verdict according to their conscience if the law was unjust. He wrote that refusal to allow the jury to be instructed constitutes a 'deliberate lack of candor'. It has been argued that the denial of jury nullification requests negates much of the point of self-representation."
Both ask the jury to vote not guilty despite the legal fact of guilt, but the reasoning is different. Public interest defense says "yes, this was illegal, but morally necessary given the particular details of this case". Jury nullification is more "yes, this was illegal, but it shouldn't be" in my mind.
A public interest defense is one that argues that a public interest exception, included in a law, applies. In jurisdictions where a public interest defense is possible, i.e. Canada, it applies only to laws which include it as a public interest exception (in Canada, it would be the Security of Information Act of 2001). If a defense argues that a murder was okay because it was in the public interest, that wouldn't be a public interest defense, because the laws against murder don't include a public interest exception. Arguing that such an exception should be made by the jury, rather than that such an exception in the law applies to your case, is a straightforward argument for jury nullification.
In the US, I'm not aware of any laws that include a public interest exception, so a public interest defense would not be possible--appeals to the jury to find someone not guilty because their crime was in the public interest would be appeals for jury nullification.
There are a few defenses that work on these sorts of exceptions which only apply to specific laws. For example, truth is a defense against a libel charge but not against a HIPAA violation charge, and self defense is a defense against a murder charge but not against a robbery charge.
If I was a jury (but keeping in mind I am not even a US national), a fair sentencing would be to recognise him as guilty but to sentence him to a short term / time served.
There were many ways in which he could have blown a whistle without releasing wholesale everything he could find on the internal network to some foreign newspapers.
In the US, the judge decides the sentence and cannot sentence him to less than a minimum. For example, if convicted (by the jury) of treason, the law states that he "shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000", and the judge cannot impose a sentence less than that.
Where did OP suggest that? Jury nullification is specifically a case by case judgement, not a broad statement.
Jury nullification (US) or a perverse verdict (UK) generally occurs when members of a criminal trial jury believe that a defendant is guilty, but choose to acquit him anyway because the jurors also believe that the law itself is unjust,that the prosecutor has misapplied the law in the defendant's case,or that the potential punishment for breaking the law is too harsh.
I don't think the law is unjust or misapplied, just that the sentence should give him credit for the public interest aspect of the revelations.
> If you look back at the history of the United States, it doesn't take very long for the average person to think about a moment in which it was absolutely illegal to do something. But at the same time, it was absolutely the same thing to do.
Was this intentionally misquoted to take some of the wind out of Snowden's sails? I'm not sure, but given the hostile nature of the interview itself I definitely would not rule it out.
It is quite possible for the President to guarantee that he will not face any charges for which he is not allowed to present such a defense.
Getting a fair trial would mean going through the same process that others charged with a crime must go through. If he is asking for a promise of a presidential pardon based upon a judge's decision then he is not asking for a fair trial but a trial which is slanted in his favor.
I would argue that he won't have faced the charges until and unless he has gone through, or waived, a complete trial on them.
> Getting a fair trial would mean going through the same process that others charged with a crime must go through.
Only if you assume that the process others charged with a crime must go through in THE US federal system is always and without exception fair in all circumstances.
Really, it seems like you have confused “routine” with “fair”.
If no one's been hurt, and the US has long upheld the need for law breaking when the law is unjust (the unlawful action of a black woman sitting in the white section of the bus) then I don't understand why his asking for a fair trial where established cases of just law breaking are brought up is contentious.
EDIT: I should clarify since I think there might be some confusion- I'm not saying that Snowden broke no laws. I'm saying I don't understand why his law breaking is contentious, given we have cases in the past of people breaking laws for just purposes that are generally accepted as just behavior. If Snowden wishes to make that argument, why are people scandalized about him wanting to go on a fair trial about it?
> Parks’ conviction seems to have stood despite the unconstitutionality of the ordinance she was convicted of violating.
While she did do a lot to effect change, your statement that "the US has long upheld the need for law breaking when the law is unjust" is untrue.
The US has upheld, culturally, that what Rosa Parks did was just. Snowden isn't asking not to go to jail, he is asking if he goes to jail that he be given a fair trial where the cultural impact is also implicated in his law breaking. Thus, I'm confused why his position is so contentious.
it's the same with asylum. implicitly, another country giving him asylum sends an interesting political/diplomatic message to the US.
I'm sure there's monetary harm from security audits, investigations. The argument Snowden wants to make is that those harms were necessary to inform the public of something they had a right to know about.
I think we can infer that Snowden's disclosures didn't have anything like such an impact.
According to Snowden, the white house never provided a convincing case for why the information would harm US interests.
Right... my question is... why is this contentious?
It makes you wonder if new presidents get "read in" on what the "puppet masters" are expecting of them (/s) or is each simply more corrupt than the last, regardless of Party.
Or that seemed like extenuating circumstances. There was very interesting commentary on this I heard somewhere from someone who'd been through similar experience. If memory serves - and it very well may not - it was Henry Kissinger on the extras for the Doctor Strangelove DVD.
1) The "puppet masters" are just the American voters
2) The voters want to be secure (really, feel secure)
3) The damage any attack would do to that sense of security is high enough to justify extreme expenditures to minimize even low-risk scenarios
4) The President's classified clearance gives them a different perspective on the active threat risk model than the average citizen
5) Communicating the active threat risk model to the citizenry defeats the goals of (2)
Also every politician fears being the person who cancelled that program/reduced that sentence/restrained the police because there's a huge bias towards "doing something" even if it's the wrong thing.
If we're using Occam's Razor, I think "Defense Contractors" would make a closer shave.
I voted for Obama the second time, but only as a lesser of 2 evils.
It's the same with stuff like the Patriot act and the NSA programs. The government got spooked about letting it happen again and the FBI is able to keep just enough of a trickle of failed 'terrorist'  plots to make it seem like a reasonable threat. There's a big bias towards doing something in the world where the benefits of not doing something are hard to gauge.
Fighting against all that is a lot of work politically and decisions have to be made about what's the priority for any administration. Obama chose healthcare and spent the years he had a majority focused on getting that through. Then after that he didn't control the house or the senate so he could only do so much via executive order and I think by that point he'd been steeped in the believers too long so didn't have the same zeal.
> It makes you wonder if new presidents get "read in" on what the "puppet masters" are expecting of them (/s) or is each simply more corrupt than the last, regardless of Party.
I think it's principally a combination of two things 1) they learn a lot more about all the national security than when they're not in the executive (excluding members of the intelligence committees and even they only get a picture of what's actually going on) and 2) they're suddenly surrounded by and being briefed by people who principally believe in these operations. Everyday some of the few people guaranteed a slice of the presidents time are people from the intelligence community who give him/her (eventually) their daily briefing after all.
[1.5] Ultimately the whole thing was a giant mess because it was hastily done and once something is being done in the military it can be hard to change course unless there's a big push behind it.
 For varying values of terrorist. Quite a few had no contact with anyone other than a government informant or agent for the length of their 'plot'!
Sure, on the main economic left-right axis, which has very little to do with this issue.
Congress explicitly prohibited him from closing it, in response to his administration indicating it would fulfill his campaign promise to do so.
Just want to add in that Ed Snowden is an American hero and the mass media that harp on lawbreaking or call him a traitor are damaging to the country.
The problem the president faces is that if you piss off the intelligence services, you a.) won't get much useful intelligence to do your job and b.) have powerful organizations with lots of dirt on you who want to see you gone. So from a strict power-play position, it's never wise to piss off the intelligence services. Those who do likely won't find themselves in power for long.
(We've seen some of this with Trump, who did piss off the intelligence services and now sees a steady barrage of leaks designed to damage his reputation and undermine his power, as well as administration officials who keep critical information from him because they don't trust him with it. Personality-wise I would've expected Trump to be more likely to pardon Snowden, but Trump is philosophically an authoritarian and not terribly sympathetic to people who undermine authority.)
I could see Sanders or Andrew Yang potentially pardoning Snowden, but I think Warren or Biden would be too cooperative with the government bureaucracy.
If she had been pardoned, that conviction would be null, and her fifth amendment right would apply. She would have a strong legal defence to avoid being thrown in jail.
The most relevant ruling would be Burdick v United States (1915) where the Supreme Court majority opinion stated that a pardon "carries an imputation of guilt; acceptance a confession of it." It was an offhand remark which hasn't been litigated in front of the Supreme Court since then so it's an open issue whether the statement above is authoritative and binding but there is zero law or precedent that allows convictions to be nullified by Presidential pardon.
AFAIK only a higher court can nullify a conviction.
Now, if Obama has pardoned Assange things might be a little differenct for Manning, but that's a weirder counterfactual assumption.
I wouldn't assume that.
I would definitely not assume that it would happen early on, given their policy ambitions, the need for political capital for them, and the fact that both are experienced enough legislators that they are unlikely to have (or succumb to staff who have) naive ideas about the impact it would or would not have on their broader agenda.
I find it a bit difficult to find the source given the fact that these keywords are on top of headlines now.
In a few months I'm not going to even be able to fly around the US with my Texas driver's license. I don't see how you could fly anywhere without a passport.
The moment he fled to a foreign power, he should have known he would never be a free man in America. Chelsea Manning's sentence was commuted, but Snowden will never have that opportunity because he fled. Furthermore, since the day he fled, he has literally done nothing but try and shame our government and our system through media.
There's a chance the motivations behind his actions really are what he says they are. There's no doubting that his leaks were a good thing for Americans to know about. But at this point I'm more inclined to believe he's a foreign asset working on a campaign to kill trust in American government and American intelligence.
He's been working this "fair trial" thing for years now. He's just another marketing tool as far as I'm concerned.
It's crazy to me that in all the talk of punishing snowden, there's never a mention of punishing those who betray the country by spying on their own citizens.