Ex-Homeland Security Boss Napolitano: No Clemency for Snowden

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Friday, 03 Jan 2014 07:41 PM

By Cynthia Fagen

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Former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Friday she “would not put clemency on the table at all” for exiled NSA leaker Edward Snowden, The Hill’s Briefing Room blog reports.

“I think Snowden has exacted quite a bit of damage and did it in a way that violated the law,” Napolitano said in an interview airing on “Meet the Press” this Sunday.

She said damage from Snowden’s actions will be felt for years to come.

Asked if the administration should consider a deal that would allow the former NSA contractor to avoid jail time in return for unreleased documents, Napolitano said she couldn't judge without knowing what information Snowden still had.

“But from where I sit today, I would not put clemency on the table at all,” she said.

The New York Times in a Jan 1 editorial referred to Snowden as a “whistleblower” who “has done his country a great service” and said that clemency should be taken into consideration.

“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 Times wrote.

“It is time for the United States to offer Mr. Snowden a plea bargain or some form of clemency that would allow him to return home, face at least substantially reduced punishment in light of his role as a whistle-blower, and have the hope of a life advocating for greater privacy and far stronger oversight of the runaway intelligence community.”

On Thursday, Anne-Marie Slaughter, the former State Department director of policy planning, tweeted she agreed with the Times that Snowden was “clearly justified in believing that the only way to blow the whistle on this kind of intelligence-gathering was to expose it to the public and let the resulting furor do the work his superiors would not.”

But “On Face the Nation” last month Michael Hayden, former head of the NSA and the CIA, blasted Snowden as a “traitor.”

Also last month, Richard Ledgett, who heads a National Security Agency task force handling unauthorized disclosures, suggested in a “60 Minutes” interview that the U.S. should consider a deal offering Snowden amnesty in exchange for returning additional documents outlining the government's top-secret surveillance programs.

“My personal view is, yes, it’s worth having a conversation about,” Ledgett said. “I would need assurances that the remainder of the data could be secured, and my bar for those assurances would be very high. It would be more than just an assertion on his part.”

But White House press secretary Jay Carney was quick to re-enforce the administration’s position on Snowden had not changed at all, and that the rogue contractor needed to come home from self-imposed exile in Moscow to face criminal charges.

“Mr. Snowden has been accused of leaking classified information and he faces felony charges here in the United States,” Carney said.

President Obama is spending his winter vacation in Hawaii reviewing a report commissioned by the White House that recommends dozens of steps the administration could take to increase transparency or impose limits on the nation’s intelligence programs, including ending the collection of Americans’ phone records, additional scrutiny when the decision is made to monitor foreign leaders, and new safeguards requiring the administration to obtain judicial approval before reviewing a citizen’s financial or phone records.

Obama is expected to announce his decision on the recommendations later this month.

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