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January 2nd, 2014
07:08 PM ET

Should NSA leaker Snowden get clemency?

The New York Times has called for clemency for NSA leaker Edward Snowden. Our panel debates possible ways forward.

Filed under: Edward Snowden • NSA leaks
soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. Stan in SC

    Clemency should be offered. He blew the lid off a scandal that made Watergate pale by any comparison. When those who are charged with dealing with enemies of the state start policing the citizens, the citizens invariably become the enemies of the state. This scandal may not alarm some but what it has the potential to evolve into could be something frightening. Be careful what "We the People" give up, because we are unlikely to get it back

    January 6, 2014 at 9:36 am |
  2. Eisenhower_Dwight_D_USA

    When you deliberately give Intelligence secrets to an enemy nation in a time of war, you are guilty of Treason and Espionage. Has been that way for 5,000 years. Iran and North Korea have benefitted from this, as well as Al Qaeda, Al Shabab, Communist China and Putin's Russia... This creeps is As GUILTY as Benedict Arnold. Case closed.

    January 4, 2014 at 2:24 pm |
  3. alan van cleave

    He opened my eyes to the truth. But most people enjoy living with lies. I like anyone who exposes illegal government actions. I don't want my emails tapped. Or my phone or house etc.

    January 4, 2014 at 12:50 pm |
    • ACPD

      What exactly did the gov't do that was illegal? Just because this guy claims this data collection was/is illegal doesn't mean he is right. His arrogance and narcissism really are too unctuous to be tolerated....We do, however, know that what he did was illegal....

      January 7, 2014 at 8:38 am |
  4. ACPD

    No. What he did was not really whistleblowing. It was self-serving and narcissistic, because he stole information and left the country. To be a true whistleblower, one has to stay around to face the music and fight for what one believes. Whistleblowers don't make things worse by removing information and then handing it over to sources over which no one has any control. Snowden's supporters also don't seem to mind that more damaging and influential information is gathered each day by Facebook and corporations. The Gov't hasn't misused its power. Snowden betrayed his responsibilities and his country. What he did has done much to confuse the public and to divert attention from important issues and work in this area. Those who support Snowden have more in common with rebellious adolescents than they do with righteous freedom fighters....

    January 4, 2014 at 9:08 am |
  5. Sharon Brevik

    No, he should not come back to this country unless he is coming back to go on trial. He is a traitor.....Why should he have clemency? He is a criminal......He disobeyed the law...He took secret information out of this country and shared it with China and Russia. He has done damage to our Security around the world and has embarrassed our Security Departments in this country........Stay out, Snowden, we don't want you back at all......CNN........we really don't want to hear from him......Jake Tapper, you just invited him to call for an interview........We can live without hearing from a traitor.

    January 3, 2014 at 5:48 pm |
    • fidel

      Traitor!!! None so blind as those who will not see. The guy has been deserted by his country and probably doesn't want to come back. Ever been to Samara, Russia? Beautiful! Anyhoot, I wouldn't trust the word of ant gov. official from the highest to the lowest, as they are all pathological liars. Yup, you get what you pay for in the good ole usa.

      January 3, 2014 at 9:00 pm |
    • anhcam

      Hi every bodies,I was a communist refugee from Vietnam since 1985 and living in Houston/TX happily,I am very agree with idea of Miss Sharon ,mister Award Snowden have to know about the lives of people in the North Korea ,if he lives and act like that,he will be kill right away like the uncle of The leader of Communist Party, and the Snowden's family will not be safe at all.

      January 4, 2014 at 10:20 am |
  6. John Anthony

    No, I don't think so. He embarrassed the US, and even tried to make a deal with many countries in exchange for information he stole.

    January 3, 2014 at 3:06 pm |
    • fidel

      Baloney. Name two? He has offered to help Brazil stop the illegal spying on their country and businesses. And Germany. Is that wrong????

      January 3, 2014 at 9:02 pm |
  7. Bill S.

    Let him spend the rest of his life being watched by the Russian intelligence services. He will discover how much privacy he has over there when he notices someone always walking behind him no matter where he goes, and how many years pass. They can't know he won't pull an Oswald. The Russians will be reading whatever he writes, and listening to every word he says. He is stuck in that great climate forever now.

    January 3, 2014 at 2:56 pm |
  8. Joe Biden

    Obama promised Transparency. Snowden delivered it. Take away Obama's Nobel peace price and give it to Snowden.

    January 3, 2014 at 2:15 pm |
  9. Jessica McGwin

    You know on second though just do what ever you want. It is a free country. If congress, senate and the white house want to leave a spy operational. Fine save your own rear. Keep your challenge coins and do not ask me for a dollar.

    January 3, 2014 at 1:13 pm |
  10. terry hill

    no clemency! he made a choice to break the law..its on him to pay the price...he put many lives in danger. The only reason the newspapers want him back is to get a good story...they are just as evil as Snowden,,,,stay in Russia!

    January 3, 2014 at 1:01 pm |
    • fidel

      Name two in danger???? You people should be so lucky to have fostered a man cut from true patriotism, and wants to protect individual freedoms. Again, is that wrong??

      January 3, 2014 at 9:05 pm |
      • ACPD

        So, you think that any high school drop out who thinks he knows better than his bosses should be allowed–without consequences to steal information from that employer and make it public? If you can't get your mind around what this guy has done by himself, try to think a little more global about the precedent it sets. Also, being a whistleblower is different than someone who actually steals information and runs out of the country with it....He is the one who broke the law and not the gov't....

        January 7, 2014 at 8:35 am |
  11. Jerry Schull

    The man is a hero. He knew exactly what he was doing and knew that exposing the violations of the 4th amendment would lead to him being labeled a traitor. Doesn't a HERO put his life on the line for others? Isn't this what Snowden did?

    Look, others had tried to go thru channels and their concerns were nixed by the NSA. I believe there were three other NSA insiders that were threatened with being prosecuted for treason IF they continued. AND have we forgotten what happened to Born when she went to Congress to expose the derivatives market issues? Her carrier was destroyed. NOT even going to Congress would make a difference, Snowden knew this. Even the FISA court is corrupt. They gave a blanket approval of the NSA surveillance program. The only way was to alert the people of the USA of the rampant corruption.

    January 3, 2014 at 12:59 pm |
    • fidel

      Hear! Hear!! You said it, Bro

      January 3, 2014 at 9:07 pm |
  12. Jessica McGwin

    Clemency definition a) disposition to be merciful and especially to moderate the severity of punishment. b) act or instance of leniency. This is not a pardon. The penalty for treason is death. I have to look at everything on the table and decide the best course of action. If I am correct about Mr Snowden, and he has been operating as a spy for China. If I am correct that he is the author of a program that will bring harm to the people of the United States. Than yes taking the death penalty of the table and affecting a plea of life in prison would be a wise and prudent move. In our current position if he continues on his course than he is still operational. I am not saying that having him in our custody can undo or stop what has been put in action. I am saying that it could buy time. In the remote possibility that I am correct, do you understand what is at stake? Are you willing out of blind rage and ravished ego's willing to risk our nation and people further? I am not. My gut tells me I am right, to date it has not failed. Will the debates continue yes. Is there probably a back up plan for snowdens removal from the playing field no doubt. I am sure it would have been accounted for. Is there a possibility that I am wrong? Yes. In my heart of hearts I want to be wrong. I hope that I am proven incorrect, I hope I am wrong. Either way right or wrong a lessening of the punishment eliminates the possibility that he will slip, removes him from an operable position, providing an opportunity for closer examination. I am not better than anyone you have investigating. I am sure that their is better than me out there with the skills and talents that you can proudly boast about. I am sure that their is no way a stupid stripper from BFE could possibly out preform the highly paid staff on hand. I am crazy, hot tempered, hyper, over protective, passionate, down right angry at times. I am exceptionally good at nothing, I am not special by any means. I am human that is a fault we can all share. I feel that this is the not the only way but perhaps the wise and prudent decision. For most American's we do not have the money to just through to the wind. I understand the the government feels that there is no end to the cash flow, that the people have some bottom less pocket book. This may be true, with all my abilities I have yet to discover it. Not saying that it does not exist, I just do not have it at this juncture. I know in the end my words will again fall on deaf ears and that the know it all egos will be fed. I stand with my decision. Life in prison is more cost effective than the risk for further damage.

    January 3, 2014 at 11:47 am |
  13. oska

    Unless all the media reports were wrong in regards to what this guy has done...
    he is a traitor and should be treated as just can't threaten the whole country's security and ask for leniency,after you defect to another country. Doesn't look good for the intent, however the law is the law.

    January 3, 2014 at 11:43 am |
  14. pral

    if he is such a hero , why run to russia? of all the places he could go that dont have extradition laws he runs to russia our sworn enemy.
    second he tried to go to brazil to help them understand the scale of the spying? why?

    it's is one thing to help out the people of the US, but now hes helping gov'ts against the US. for thos that say he is not, then why even speak to other countries? if you did it to help the people then that's where it should stay. Am i right?
    beside, what did he really expose? people put everything on facebook, instagram and twitter anyway. and your xbox scans the room before you play it. so for all the people that is mad at the gov't for are allowing them into your home and life to spy. and if you are not doing anything wrong, why are you so concerned?

    January 3, 2014 at 10:36 am |
  15. Bob Richardson

    Incrementally, day-by-day, week-by-week, viewers are discovering and learning that Jeffrey Toobin hates America. He is an authoritarian who would rip up the Constitution and Bill of Rights in a heartbeat to see his dream of living in the *new* Soviet Union.

    January 3, 2014 at 10:21 am |
  16. Steve Sutherland

    Being a Canadian citizen, I can't recall incidents such as this happening "up here". But I do understand that if I write an agreement with any firm I work for, and then go directly against it, there are legal consequences. The fact that Mr. Snowden signed an agreement, worked for the NSA, and then stole material, because he felt "morally inclined", leads me to believe he knew what he was getting into working with the NSA. He should be dealt with legally. If he had a concern, bring it forward, in your firm, as per your agreement. To break that agreement and place your country into the spotlight of the entire world, is very irresponsible and very self-serving. I am pretty sure Mr. Snowden is talking to the Russians daily on other matters also. He is no hero of American public, he is little more than a thief and a great fool

    January 3, 2014 at 10:01 am |
  17. Tracy

    Absolutley NO!!! He betrayed is country. He has compromised America's security. I feel he was in it only for the name fame. Why else is he running? If he turely believed he did the right thing, then come back and face the music and fight for your cause. Hiding in what ever country will take him only offers guilt in my book. I hope he does come back, he needs to face what he has done, to all of us!! This country has had no atatcks since 911, because our country has to take the means to keep us safe. I am more than willing to sacrifice some personal freedom(privacy) for safety. Does anyone really think this is a new concept in this country?? get real people. He compromised my safety, all our safety, he needs to stop hiding and running.

    January 3, 2014 at 9:32 am |
  18. Louise Quinlan

    Absolutely not. He is a 29 year old spoiled brat who couldn't follow the main component of the job, confidentiality. I'm kind of thinking he has found out that the grass is not greener where he is located. NSA is supposed to keep all of us safe. He needs to be held accountable for his actions.

    January 3, 2014 at 9:19 am |
  19. Michael

    if he feels like such a hero he should come back to the states. he violated his company's trust and the United States trust by fleeing with that information. by stealing information and fleeing he is nothing more that a thief, should be tried and if found guilty thrown in prison. but we have too many people in this country that will over look his crime and want to let him off. we are becoming a country of "no accountability" its always some one else's fault. that make me sad

    January 3, 2014 at 8:20 am |
  20. Edward Morris

    Of course he should be granthed clemency. It is not so much of what is reveled to the rest of the world, but what our
    government is doing to the American people. The spies of America have not changed they, are still reading our mail and listening to our phone calls. Obama is no better that then the rest of them in this regards.

    January 3, 2014 at 1:14 am |
  21. Mike Sharp

    Extra ! Extra ! Read all about it. The New York Times says we should lay down to our enemies.

    January 2, 2014 at 9:14 pm |
  22. XperDunn

    On one hand, he broke faith with his country by exposing our secrets. On the other hand, the biggest secret he exposed was that our constitution was being ignored by the NSA. Arousing the rest of us to the facts, revealing the NSA's illegal snooping on every one of us, was a heroic act, and a good one. The only question is, what about the rest of it? Our government was badly embarrassed by some of what Snowden leaked–but was any real harm done?

    January 2, 2014 at 7:53 pm |
    • slurpee

      Government needed to be embarrassed, put back in their place. NSA has ruined what little credibility was left to America, It will take decades before we can earn that trust back. pardon him, and let him be forgotten. I don't think of him as a traitor, but not a hero either.

      January 3, 2014 at 7:55 pm |
  23. Mycroft Lake Travis Texas

    Yes undoubtedly, The real Criminals Bush and Cheney should be indicted . If I were President I'd pardon Snowden ,clean house in the NSA, FBI and CIA , then hire individuals with the character to work for the citizenry of the USA, instead of spying on us patriots. Snowden should be offered a full pardon and a position of supervision over all intelligence agencies, because he has shown more character, integrity and smarts, than the people holding those positions. Thank You CNN for finally asking something worth answering.

    January 2, 2014 at 7:15 pm |
    • pikeone

      You liberals need to stop blaming past administrations for what is going on now in the Obama administration. Bush/Cheney had nothing to do with Snowden and the current NSA activities.

      January 3, 2014 at 12:01 pm |
    • come on...

      be fair now, who is the president while this is going on ... you want to point the finger at past presidents ... and rightly so... you have to acknowledge the failures of the current one... why did this occur over the last 6 years also... and why does this administration get a free pass because of people like you who think because a person has an R or D in front of his name he suddenly immune to having to know what his government that he is executive over is up to? ... ... why was the proverbial "house" you speak of, not cleaned from day 1 on january 20, 2009? ...

      January 3, 2014 at 1:03 pm |
      • fidel

        Since the end of the war2 and earlier, ie Wilson, and the new Fed Reserve. created by him, have all been horrible leaders with this idea of American superiority and coolness over the whole world. Get a man/woman of the people to lead, the way it is supposed to be. Not corporate yes men.

        January 3, 2014 at 9:16 pm |

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