By Shirley Hawkins
The editorial board of the New York Times and the Guardian newspapers are asking for clemency for former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who leaked classified National Security Agency documents to several media outlets. Snowden is currently living in Russia after being granted temporary asylum for one year.
The documents disclosed operational details of global surveillance apparatus run by the NSA. His release of classified material was called the most significant leak in U. S. history by Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg.
“He may have committed a crime…But he has done his country a great service,” stated the Times board. “It is time for the United States to offer Mr. Snowden a plea bargain or some form of clemency.”
But Snowden’s detractors disagree. Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus called Snowden an “insufferable whistleblower” in a recent column.
“If Snowden really believes in the Constitution, he should have stuck around, tested the constitutional system, taken his punishment, and argued that he was justified in the leaks that he did. He didn’t. He just turned tail and fled the country,” Marcus told CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper.”
Glenn Greenwald, the investigative journalist who first broke news that Snowden gave him to the NSA, disagrees with Marcus’ argument.
“If (Snowden) had stayed in the United States, he would have been barred from making the very argument that she just said he should have made,” Greenwald told CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper.” “Under the Espionage Act, you’re not allowed to come into court and say ‘I was justified in disclosing this information.’ There is no whistleblower exception in the Act, which is why they don’t get justice in the United States,” said Greenwald, an investigative journalist with First Look Media.