New York Times editorial: Snowden ‘justified,’ deserves lighter punishment

Demonstrators hold signs supporting fugitive former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
Demonstrators hold signs supporting fugitive former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
Credit: Reuters

The U.S. government should grant former NSA contractor Edward Snowden clemency or a plea bargain given the public value of revelations over the National Security Agency’s vast spying programs, the New York Times editorial board said on Thursday.

In its lead editorial, the newspaper said Americans now more fully understand how widely their phone calls, emails and other information are tracked. Information provided to journalists by Snowden has also prompted needed legal review of the intelligence gathering and led a presidential panel to call for a major overhaul of the agency, it said.

“Considering the enormous value of the information he has revealed, and the abuses he has exposed, Mr. Snowden deserves better than a life of permanent exile, fear and flight. He may have committed a crime to do so, but he has done his country a great service,” the New York Times’ editorial board wrote.

The Guardian, a British newspaper that along with The Washington Post received Snowden’s leaked documents, also called for President Barack Obama to pardon Snowden in its own editorial published on Wednesday.

“We hope that calm heads within the present administration are working on a strategy to allow Mr Snowden to return to the U.S. with dignity, and the president to use his executive powers to treat him humanely and in a manner that would be a shining example about the value of whistleblowers and of free speech itself,” The Guardian wrote.

Snowden, living in Russia with temporary asylum, last year leaked documents he collected while working for the NSA. The United States has charged him with espionage, and more charges could follow.

The disclosures have sparked a debate over how much leeway to give the U.S. government in gathering information to protect Americans from terrorism, and have prompted numerous lawsuits.

Last week, a federal judge ruled that the NSA’s collection of phone call records is lawful, while another judge earlier in December questioned the program’s constitutionality. The issue is now more likely to move before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Snowden’s Russian amnesty is due to expire in August. He could face at least 30 years in prison over current charges but is more likely to face up to life in prison, the Times said.

NSA’s incoming deputy director, Rick Ledgett, recently told CBS News he would favor negotiating an amnesty with Snowden in exchange for securing the documents in his possession, but the White House has dismissed that suggestion.

The New York Times editorial board said Snowden “was clearly justified” in his leaks given that current whistleblower laws do not cover private contractors.

The editorial listed several ways the NSA had violated the public trust, saying it broke federal privacy laws “thousands of times a year,” undermined the Internet’s basic encryption system and breached the communications links of data centers around the world.

Obama, who has called on Snowden to return to the United States, should instead give him “an incentive to return home,” it said.

“When someone reveals that government officials have routinely and deliberately broken the law, that person should not face life in prison at the hands of the same government,” the newspaper wrote.

 



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Astoria minivan crash kills 1, injures 6: NYPD

Anthony Boyd, 45, died soon after what investigators believe was some sort of medical emergency as he drove his family through Astoria on Sunday afternoon.

Local

NYC pension funds valued at $160b: Scott Stringer

The five NYC pension funds that thousands of city employees contribute to saw its fifth year in a row of increased returns, up $23 billion from last year.

Local

Man dies trapped in elevator shaft at Bronx…

A man in his twenties died after being trapped in an elevator shaft of a Bronx building early Monday, police said.

International

Sierra Leone Ebola patient, recovered from family, dies…

An Ebola patient whose family sparked a nationwide hunt when they forcefully removed her from a treatment center and took her to a traditional healer has died.

Music

Newport Folk Festival: Photo gallery of 35 moments…

As has been the tradition since Bob Dylan plugged in a bajillion years ago, the Newport Folk Festival embraces more musical genres than its name implies.

Music

MKTO: Behind the bromance

MKTO's Malcolm Kelley and Tony Oller talk about the American Dream tour, Demi Lovato and getting turned down by girls.

Arts

James Earl Jones and Rose Byrne head to…

Two-time Tony winner James Earl Jones returns to the New York stage next month as an eccentric grandfather in a revival of the 1930s comedy…

Movies

Box office: Scarlett Johansson wins battle of brains…

Scarlett Johansson's "Lucy" handily dispatched with Dwayne Johnson's "Hercules" over the weekend.

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

MLB

Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…

MLB

Yankees GM Brian Cashman breaks down art of…

The action frequently accelerates as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches, as it will on Thursday.

Auto racing

Jeff Gordon captures fifth title at Brickyard 400

Jeff Gordon captures fifth title at Brickyard 400

Wellbeing

This Week In Health: Friends share similar DNA,…

Friends share similar DNA, study finds Location: U.S. Study subjects: Nearly 2,000 people Results: When it comes to our social networks, it seems that birds of…

Education

Are liberal arts colleges turning away from the…

Bryn Mawr College, a small women's college located just outside of Philadelphia, announced last week that it would be making standardized tests like the SAT…

Education

Recent grads discover school superintendent plagiarized parts of…

  Two recent high school graduates made a surprising discovery about the commencement speech their school superintendent delivered at their graduation: portions of it was copied…

Career

Feeling stuck? Get out of the entry-level job…

Television and movies may be littered with 20-something characters who seem directionless when it comes to their careers, but author Mary Traina says she finds…