Edward Snowden via Wikimedia Commons

Of all the controversial people President Trump may be considering pardoning – former NSA spy and indicted traitor – Edward Snowden – should not be one of them. Trump recently surprised a good many supporters, as well as military and intelligence officials, and veterans, with his comments that he was considering pardoning Snowden.

“It seems to be a split decision that many people think that he should be somehow treated differently, and other people think he did very bad things.” Trump said in response to a question at a news conference in New Jersey – reported by Business Insider.

This was especially surprising since Trump has previously stated on numerous occasions that Snowden was “a spy who should be executed”

Snowden infamously betrayed the United States when he stole copies of thousands of highly classified documents from the National security Agency (NSA) where he worked as a mid-level contractor and later fled to Russia. Snowden reportedly held a Top Secret/Special Compartmented Information (TS/SCI) security clearance and had previously worked in a similar contractor role at the CIA.

While many liberals, and some libertarians, praise Snowden as a “whistleblower,” for uncovering unreported domestic surveillance programs, he was no such thing. As The American Spectator correctly explains:

Under U.S. law, when a government employee (or someone such as Snowden) believes the agency to which he is assigned is engaged in illegal behavior, he is provided with legal protection against retaliation if he reports the allegedly illegal actions in one of several ways.

For example, a whistleblower can report the behavior to the agency’s inspector general or to a congressional committee that has jurisdiction over the agency. These options enable the whistleblower to avoid the agency chain of command and go to an independent authority that can both investigate the alleged lawbreaking and protect his job.

Snowden didn’t do any of these things. He simply stole the Top Secret/SCI documents and gave them to WikiLeaks and a journalist who then published a series of stories in the UK’s Guardian newspaper. The New York Times – never shy about publishing U.S. national security secrets – also jumped on the Snowden betrayal bandwagon.

Snowden also went far beyond just exposing classified surveillance programs.  Military.com reported in 2018 that Joel Melstad, a spokesman for the U.S. National Counterintelligence Center, said that the center’s classified damage assessment showed that Snowden’s leaks “put U.S. personnel or facilities at risk around the world, damaged intelligence collection efforts, exposed tools used to amass intelligence, destabilized U.S. partnerships abroad and exposed U.S. intelligence operations, capabilities and priorities.”

The American Spectator notes that “Mike Pompeo, when he was CIA director, correctly differentiated WikiLeaks from journalism by saying they acted as an adversarial intelligence agency. WikiLeaks, and American Glenn Greenwald, were Snowden’s partners in crime.”

Snowden has spent the past seven years in Russia and recently requested to extend his stay there another three years.

The damage Snowden has caused to U.S. national security is incalculable, and ongoing. We will probably never know the full extent of the damage – how many enemy spies and terrorists changed their communication methods because of him, or how many American or allied agents may have been compromised.

Trump’s Attorney General, Bill Barr said he was “vehemently” opposed to a Snowden pardon, describing Snowden as “a traitor and the information he provided our adversaries greatly hurt the safety of the American people. He was peddling it around like a commercial merchant. We can’t tolerate that.”

President Trump needs to listen to Barr. Pardoning Snowden would be an insult to America’s military and intelligence professionals, and its veterans. If Snowden ever returns to the U.S. he must face trial for his treasonous crimes.

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Paul Crespo is the Managing Editor of American Defense News. A defense and national security expert, he served as a Marine Corps officer and as a military attaché with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) at US embassies worldwide. Paul holds degrees from Georgetown, London, and Cambridge Universities. He is also CEO of SPECTRE Global Risk, a security advisory firm, and President of the Center for American Defense Studies, a national security think tank.

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CharlieSeattle
CharlieSeattle
9 months ago

Exposing US War crimes and illegal surveillance on US citizens is not treason.

Pardon Edward Snowden.

CharlieSeattle
CharlieSeattle
9 months ago
Reply to  CharlieSeattle

Correction, a pardon is not required as there was no crime.

Just withdraw the charges and instead punish those in the Pentagon and NSA/CIA/FBI that broke the law.

Pickelodeon
Pickelodeon
9 months ago
Reply to  CharlieSeattle

It’s my understanding that Snowden exposed activities of our government poking around into the private affairs of US citizens. If that is true then he let us know we have some government activities resembling those of the Soviets and the Nazis—the government was spying on private citizens. I’m sure Donald Trump will have Edward Snowden’s case investigated thoroughly. Bergdahl should never be pardoned nor should have Manning been pardoned.

dennis taylor
dennis taylor
9 months ago
Reply to  CharlieSeattle

I’m split on whether he should be pardoned of not but the guy has been run through the wringer for years now and thats punishment in and off itself so if he gets pardoned I wont be upset about it as long as there is a stipulation included in the pardon that he can never work for any government job ever again and not work for company’s that do work for any government,private sector employment only.

Steve Earle
Steve Earle
9 months ago
Reply to  dennis taylor

Snowden may be a weasel but I have a hard time saying he’s a traitor. He didn’t lie he reported facts, ugly facts gov. didn’t want people to know about. Now I have no sympathy for terrorists but going behind the backs of American people is never a good idea.Id Snowden gets pardoned or not I’ll have no objection.

Randy131
Randy131
9 months ago
Reply to  Steve Earle

I don’t think he’s a weasel, I think he’s a patriot, look what he had to give up for the American people to learn the truth about the surveillance on them by the federal government, which James Clapper absolutely knowingly lied about when asked that pertinent question when being interviewed under oath by a congressional investigative committee. Read my comment directly above the original comment that started this conversational thread.

Walt Tendee
Walt Tendee
9 months ago
Reply to  Randy131

Barack Hussein Obama should be prosecuted as a traitor for lending aid and comfort to enemies of the USA. He is a fraud who was put into office only because of his color. He has zero credentials for running any government or business at any level. He grabbed on to the (p)residency as a get-rich-quick-scheme.
It paid off thanks to the anti-Americans who support him.

Robert Czeranko
Robert Czeranko
9 months ago

One of the only Obama era whistleblowers. No wonder he fled the country. And Snowden was an Obama supporter.

Linda Evans
Linda Evans
9 months ago

YES, I agree pardon Snowden

TheMadMan
TheMadMan
9 months ago

Snowden is not a traitor but a hero for coming forward with what these evil Democrats have been doing.

Linda Evans
Linda Evans
9 months ago
Reply to  TheMadMan

Yes, Snowden is a hero pardon him

Walt Tendee
Walt Tendee
9 months ago
Reply to  TheMadMan

Did during the Obama imposter presidency.