The New York Times' suggestion that NSA secrets leaker Edward Snowden should get clemency or a plea agreement for leaking information about the agency's broad surveillance programs last year has angered the White House.
In particular, Politico reports
, the Obama administration is upset that the editorial says that the government deliberately sought to break the law in its widespread collection of Americans' telephone and Internet records.
Snowden, 30, a former National Security Agency subcontractor living under temporary political asylum in Russia, provided the classified data to news agencies after he smuggled it out of the NSA by downloading it to a flash drive that had been banned from use
by the agency.
He has been charged with espionage by the U.S. government. Snowden is believed to still have 1.5 million classified documents he has yet to share.
"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 Times said in its editorial.
While a federal judge ruled last month that the NSA's collection of phone records was unconstitutional and that it violated privacy rights, agency officials had received approval to obtain the data from the 15 judges of the secret United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, Politico reports.
"There's absolutely no evidence any government officials or employees violated the law," one White House official told Politico. "The piece is based on an absolutely inaccurate premise and that is that laws have been broken.
"Snowden broke the law and the people conducting these activities were doing so in compliance with the law," the official said.
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