Jack Goldsmith’s response to my call for a pardon for Edward Snowden deserves a reply. I also have a few thoughts on what Susan Hennessey and Ben Wittes have now added to the debate.
Latest in Surveillance: Snowden NSA Controversy
Let’s start with an obvious point: As Jack Goldsmith pointed out last week, President Obama is not going to pardon Edward Snowden. It’s just not going to happen. Period. And everyone involved in the campaign for a pardon for the Moscow-based fugitive is fully aware there is no hope it will come to fruition.
A “pardon Snowden” campaign was launched Wednesday, in conjunction with the Snowden film. Snowden himself made the “moral case” case for why he should be pardoned, and Tim Edgar made a much more powerful case. I remain unconvinced. I don’t think the President will, or should, pardon Snowden.
The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence voted unanimously on Thursday afternoon to approve a report on Edward Snowden finding that he "did tremendous damage" to U.S. national security. The executive summary of the report is unclassified and is available here and below; the full report is 36 pages and is classified.
I have signed on to the letter asking President Obama to pardon Edward Snowden that was released today. I know this will be an unpopular position among many of my former colleagues in the national security community. My reasons for doing so are not fully captured by that letter. They are different from those who see Snowden simply as a hero and the NSA as the villain.
Three years ago today, The Guardian published the first story based on the huge archive of documents that that Edward Snowden stole from the National Security Agency while working as an NSA contractor. Then-Attorney General Holder’s Justice Department quickly charged Snowden with felonies for theft of government property and mishandling classified information.
I’ve read the Vice News report based on the FOIA-released documents three times now, and still do not see within it support for the headline, “Exclusive: Snowden Tried to Tell NSA About Surveillance Concerns, Documents Reveal.”
"Geof Stone is a prominent civil liberties expert and advocate who is a member of the National Advisory Council of the American Civil Liberties Union [and a Professor at the University of Chicago Law School]. . . . After [Edward] Snowden's revelations and subsequent deep concern over government surveillance, President Obama appointed Stone a member of a special review group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies.
The court fight between Apple and FBI over access to a terrorist iPhone is just the latest chapter in the long-running tension between security professionals trying to get access to information and communications companies who hold user data. The debate is often framed as a balance between government power and individual privacy. Frequently overlooked is the critical role of the communications companies, who as physical and legal gatekeepers regulate government access to private information.
U.S. and European Union data-regulators today reached a new legal framework that will govern the transfer of data across the Atlantic. The new agreement—called the E.U.-U.S. Privacy Shield—will replace the Safe Harbor agreement that was struck down by the European high court in October. That ruling, largely informed by news reports regarding U.S. surveillance practices, claimed that the United States did not adequately protect the privacy of Europeans. Even so, European and American negotiators appeared positive today that the new agreement will withstand court scrutiny.