If the Obama Administration continues to pursue criminal espionage charges against Edward Snowden, they may be sinking their own ships by censoring his loose lips.
On Tuesday, The New York Times reported former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden has been nominated for Europe’s prestigious human rights award, The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. Regardless of how you feel about him, he isn’t going away anytime soon.
Snowden continues to seek justice for recent charges claiming he violated the Espionage Act, and stole government property with intent to disclose classified surveillance secrets of the United States and British governments. While Snowden did in fact leak various classified documents to The Guardian (U.K) and The Washington Post, he should not be accused of treasonous acts of disclosure. Rather, he should be considered a whistleblower in the ranks of Daniel Ellsberg, William Mark Felt (Deep Throat) and Russ Tice.
It would be in America's best interest to consider him as such too. If not, immense obstacles facing the Obama administration will actually cause more harm to our national security than initially intended.
Despite Snowden's declaration that the information he leaked to publications in no way threatened national security, the Obama administration has viciously played the bully to silence Snowden's perpetuation of public awareness and discussion. The president is standing firm on the charges against Snowden, which could implicate massive prison time if Snowden were to return to the U.S. Therefore, Snowden has been seeking asylum in countries such as China and Russia with sources suggesting Cuba and Venezuela may be next for him in this game of safe haven hopscotch.
However, the Obama administration should recognize that without negotiation of Snowden's charges, he may never return to the U.S., and that could mean he may have to provide countries willing to grant him political asylum with a comprehensive compilation of all the classified documents-- documents that do in fact contain the information the Obama administration is essentially sweating bullets over.
I briefly digress-- wasn't transparency and accountability what President Obama claimed his presidency would be all about? Then it would be a massive contradiction of this claim to point out Obama has outdone all previous presidents in criminal prosecutions over such leaks, overseeing six such cases to date. This is compared to only three cases brought under all previous administrations combined.
Still, the plot continues to thicken.
Glenn Greenwald, Snowden's main defender and contact at The Guardian, reported in the British publication that other publications such as The Independent (U.K.) are said to have received heavily classified information from the documents Snowden obtained from the NSA. However, Snowden was quoted in Greenwald's article saying:
"I have never spoken with, worked with, or provided any journalistic materials to The Independent. The journalists I have worked with have, at my request, been judicious and careful in ensuring that the only things disclosed are what the public should know but that does not place any person in danger."
So if Snowden didn't do it, who did? He says:
"It appears that the U.K. government is now seeking to create an appearance that The Guardian and The Washington Post's disclosures are harmful, and they are doing so by intentionally leaking harmful information to The Independent and attributing it to others. The U.K. government should explain the reasoning behind this decision to disclose information that, were it released by a private citizen, they would argue is a criminal act."
This type of political behavior isn't just allegedly taking place over seas. In Washington, high-ranking officials, especially the president, have been leaking information about classified security secrets at their own discretion, dignifying the so-called accomplishments of the current administration.
Examples of such include: cyber-attacks on Iran's nuclear program, details about Obama’s "role in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden," drone attacks in Pakistan, "and the selection of targets for Obama’s 'kill list.'”
Yet this affirmation is merely the words of the president to the public. To the federal courts, though, these examples are technically unknown since they’re considered too secret to officially confirm their existence.
Even Sen. John McCain said in a Senate hearing the leaks appear to be part of “a broader effort by the administration to paint a portrait of the President of the United States as a strong leader on national security issues."
The fact that this administration would aggressively pursue leaks perpetrated by a 25-year-old Army soldier (Manning) in the Wikileaks matter and former CIA employees in other leaks cases, but apparently sanction leaks made by senior administration officials for political purposes, is simply unacceptable,” McCain said.
Although the White House Press Secretary has said McCain's allegations are "grossly irresponsible," you wonder if Snowden is yet another pawn in a never-ending game of Battleship. The American and British people have a right to know about happenings that affect their privacy and security. Snowden had no intention of releasing information in a treasonous manner to aid the likings of our enemies.
Unless all American and British citizens are considered potential threats to national security, the governments have no right to prosecute Snowden for his political martyrdom to the extent they are currently supporting