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Ex-CIA director: Snowden should be 'hanged' for Paris - The Hill 20151119

Bradford Richardson - Ex-CIA director: Snowden should be 'hanged' for Paris - The Hill 20151119

A former CIA director says leaker Edward Snowden should be convicted of treason and given the death penalty in the wake of the terrorist attack on Paris.

“It’s still a capital crime, and I would give him the death sentence, and I would prefer to see him hanged by the neck until he’s dead, rather than merely electrocuted,” James Woolsey told CNN’s Brooke Baldwin on Thursday.

Woolsey said Snowden, who divulged classified in 2013, is partly responsible for the terrorist attack in France last week that left at least 120 dead and hundreds injured.
“I think the blood of a lot of these French young people is on his hands,” he said.

Woolsey, who served as the head of the CIA from 1993 to 1995, said the Snowden leak was “substantial.”

“They turned loose not only material about some procedural aspects of something, they turned loose, for example, some substantial material about the Mexican intelligence service and law enforcement working together against human trafficking,” he said.

Woolsey wondered if Snowden were "pro-pimp."

Current CIA Director John Brennan has recently echoed his predecessor’s sentiments, arguing that Snowden's disclosures make it harder for intelligence officials to track terror plots.

“I think any unauthorized disclosures made by individuals that have dishonored the oath of office, that they have raised their hand and attested to, undermines this nation’s security,” Brennan said about Snowden at the Overseas Security Advisory Council’s annual meeting on Wednesday.

Snowden fled the country after stealing classified information and disclosing the extent of U.S. surveillance programs. He currently resides in Russia, where he has been granted temporary asylum.

White House stands firm on Snowden prosecution - The Hill 20150601

White House stands firm on Snowden prosecution - The Hill 20150601

By Jordan Fabian

The expiration of provisions of the Patriot Act has not changed the White House’s view that former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden should face prosecution.

“The fact is that Mr. Snowden committed very serious crimes,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Monday. “The U.S. government and the Department of Justice believe that he should face them.”

Snowden revealed the controversial NSA program that collected Americans’ phone records, the same program which lapsed after the Senate failed to reauthorize parts of the Patriot Act before a Sunday deadline.

The lapse will likely be temporary — the Senate is expected to pass a bipartisan bill to reform the program this week. But some lawmakers have credited, or blamed, Snowden for the contentious debate that has surrounded the nation’s spying powers.

Federal prosecutors charged Snowden with espionage in 2013 after he leaked details of the metadata program. But he evaded arrest by fleeing from Hong Kong to Russia, where he was granted temporary asylum.

A Russian lawyer for Snowden said in March he was in discussions to return to the United States. Snowden has previously demanded assurances that he would receive a fair trial, and that he could use a so-called “whistleblower defense.”

Earnest would not comment directly on Snowden’s offer to return, but he criticized the former NSA contractor for “releasing details on the Internet” rather than using pre-existing whistleblower protocols for national security programs.

“We believe Mr. Snowden should return to the United States, where he will face due process and have the opportunity … to make that case in a court of law,” Earnest said.

Victorious Snowden stuck in exile - The Hill 20150606

Victorious Snowden stuck in exile - The Hill 20150606

By Julian Hattem

Edward Snowden is claiming victory this week, after President Obama signed legislation that significantly curbs federal surveillance powers for the first time in a generation.

But the world’s most famous American leaker is still stuck in Russia, with the U.S. having revoked his passport and indicted him on espionage charges that would likely lead to a lengthy prison sentence, should he step back on American soil.

Snowden is the subject of an Oscar-winning documentary and credited with spurring the surveillance reform push on Capitol Hill, but has also been denounced as a traitor, and the ethics of his actions remain the subject of fierce debate.“I have lost a lot of things,” Snowden said via videoconference at an Amnesty International event this week. “I can no longer see my family, I can no longer live in my home.”

“But on the other hand, the things that I have received personally and that we have all benefitted from publicly make it all worth it,” he added.

It was two years ago Friday that Snowden’s first leak made its way into the pages of The Guardian, showing that the National Security Agency (NSA) had received permission from a secretive federal court to collect data about millions of Verizon customers’ phone calls without a warrant.

The firestorm from the leaks culminated in President Obama’s signature on the USA Freedom Act, which ends the NSA program and makes other reforms to the government’s surveillance and secret legal operation.

While the passage of the USA Freedom Act would have been unlikely without Snowden, he remains one of the most divisive figures in public life.

Snowden is “a traitor to the United States,” Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) said in heated floor remarks as the bill headed towards a 67-32 vote on Tuesday.

“Snowden put the lives of Americans and foreigners at risk,” he added.

Two years ago this weekend, Snowden was sitting with three journalists in a cramped hotel room in Hong Kong, in scenes captured in Laura Poitras’s Academy Award-winning documentary “Citizenfour.”

Shortly after that, he fled to Moscow, where a nearly six-week stay in Sheremetyevo Airport turned into nearly two years of temporary asylum.

Snowden has repeatedly expressed a desire to come home, but criminal prosecution awaits him.

The Obama administration has charged Snowden with three felonies, including two under the 1917 Espionage Act, which could place him in jail for years.

“The fact is that Mr. Snowden committed very serious crimes, and the U.S. government and Department of Justice believe that he should face them,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said this week.

“We believe that Mr. Snowden should return to the United States where he will face due process, and he’ll have the opportunity — if he returned to the United States — to make that case in a court of law,” Earnest added.

For now, his return seems incredibly unlikely.

While lawyers for Snowden were in negotiations with Justice Department officials for some type of leniency last year, those talks appear to have broken down.

"As time goes on, the utility for us of having that conversation becomes less," NSA Deputy Director Richard Ledgett said last summer at the Aspen Security Forum, shortly after the one-year anniversary of Snowden’s leaks. "As time goes on, his information becomes less useful."

Ben Wizner, Snowden’s lead lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, declined to discuss possible negotiations with the Obama administration, but appeared less pessimistic about Snowden’s future.

“I don’t believe that he’s going to spend the remainder of his years in exile from his country,” Wizner said on Friday. “Because history is much kinder to whistleblowers than it is to exaggerated claims of national security.”

There’s a “non-zero chance” that the calculus would change at some point to make a deal possible, suggested Stephen Vladeck, a law professor at American University.

“Both sides would have to come off of their current position, which is why I don’t have any reason to think this will happen any time soon,” he said. "But I could see a story where at some point in the future it’s actually in everyone’s interest to put this chapter — as much as we can — behind us.”

The Obama administration — or perhaps a future administration — might value the symbolic closure of getting Snowden to admit to breaking the law, Vladeck said. Snowden, for his part, might find himself in increasingly less favorable circumstances in Russia.

Still, the NSA leaker and his allies have insisted he won’t return if a jail cell is his destination.

The espionage charges placed on Snowden make it likely that he would not be able to publicly give his side of the story in court.

Supporters of Snowden point to Chelsea Manning — another leaker who gave documents to Wikileaks and is now serving a 35-year prison sentence — as evidence of the kind of treatment he would receive, were he to come back without a deal.

A lengthy prison sentence would be all the more unjust, Snowden allies say, since former CIA Director David Petraeus was given a mere slap on the wrist for giving classified information to his mistress and biographer, Paula Broadwell. In April, Petraeus was sentenced to two years of probation and a $100,000 fine.

“In the context of laws that are very broad, the power to selectively prosecute those that expose things that are critical of the administration’s behavior, while not prosecuting — or prosecuting for a very limited offense — those who leak in a way that supports the administration ... is an abuse of power itself,” said Yochai Benkler, a professor at Harvard Law School and co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society.

The fact that Snowden remains a fugitive after spurring changes in the law “says more about us and our system than about him,” Benkler added.

It’s “a profoundly distorted view of American democracy,” he said.

White House: We won’t pardon Snowden - The Hill 20150728

White House: We won’t pardon Snowden - The Hill 20150728
By Julian Hattem

The White House has stood by its refusal to pardon National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Instead, it said, the former government contractor should return to the U.S. and “accept the consequences of his actions.”

“He should come home to the United States, and be judged by a jury of his peers — not hide behind the cover of an authoritarian regime,” White House Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Advisor Lisa Monaco said in response to a petition about Snowden on Tuesday.

“Right now, he's running away from the consequences of his actions.”The comments are similar to those that all level of government officials have given in recent months about Snowden, who is currently living in Russia to avoid espionage charges in the U.S. that could keep him imprisoned for decades.

While the Obama administration was at one point discussing the possibility of leniency for Snowden, those talks appear to have dissolved. Still, former Attorney General Eric Holder recently said that the “possibility exists” for a deal with Snowden at some point.

“Instead of constructively addressing these issues, Mr. Snowden's dangerous decision to steal and disclose classified information had severe consequences for the security of our country and the people who work day in and day out to protect it,” Monaco wrote in response to the White House petition. The petition was created in the summer of 2013, shortly after Snowden released his documents, and has more than 167,000 signatures.

“If he felt his actions were consistent with civil disobedience, then he should do what those who have taken issue with their own government do: Challenge it, speak out, engage in a constructive act of protest, and — importantly — accept the consequences of his actions,” she added.

Snowden’s supporters said that’s easier said than done.

The nature of the Espionage Act charges brought against Snowden would make it impossible for him to have a fair day in court in which he could reasonably offer his side of the story, they allege.

As evidence, they pointed to the case brought against Chelsea Manning, another government leaker who has begun a 35-year prison sentence for her actions.

If Snowden were promised a fair trial, he would “love” to come back to the U.S., he has said.

The controversy over Snowden’s status is all the more vexing because his leak of classified intelligence documents unquestionably forced Congress to dramatically rein in the NSA earlier this summer. Though the Obama administration still considers him to be a criminal, its hand was forced by the debate that Snowden began.

OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE RESPONSE TO Pardon Edward Snowden
A Response to Your Petition on Edward Snowden
Thanks for signing a petition about Edward Snowden. This is an issue that many Americans feel strongly about. Because his actions have had serious consequences for our national security, we took this matter to Lisa Monaco, the President's Advisor on Homeland Security and Counterterrorism. Here's what she had to say:

"Since taking office, President Obama has worked with Congress to secure appropriate reforms that balance the protection of civil liberties with the ability of national security professionals to secure information vital to keep Americans safe.

As the President said in announcing recent intelligence reforms, "We have to make some important decisions about how to protect ourselves and sustain our leadership in the world, while upholding the civil liberties and privacy protections that our ideals and our Constitution require."

Instead of constructively addressing these issues, Mr. Snowden's dangerous decision to steal and disclose classified information had severe consequences for the security of our country and the people who work day in and day out to protect it.

If he felt his actions were consistent with civil disobedience, then he should do what those who have taken issue with their own government do: Challenge it, speak out, engage in a constructive act of protest, and -- importantly -- accept the consequences of his actions. He should come home to the United States, and be judged by a jury of his peers -- not hide behind the cover of an authoritarian regime. Right now, he's running away from the consequences of his actions.

We live in a dangerous world. We continue to face grave security threats like terrorism, cyber-attacks, and nuclear proliferation that our intelligence community must have all the lawful tools it needs to address. The balance between our security and the civil liberties that our ideals and our Constitution require deserves robust debate and those who are willing to engage in it here at home."

Spy chief: Snowden killed 'important' spy program in Afghanistan - The Hill 20150909

Spy chief: Snowden killed 'important' spy program in Afghanistan - The Hill 20150909
By Julian Hattem

Edward Snowden’s disclosures about American spy powers directly led to the end of a critical program in Afghanistan, the nation’s top spy said on Wednesday.

By forcing the end of the program that recorded practically every cellphone call in the country — as well as scuttling other efforts — Snowden “has done untold damage” to U.S. intelligence, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said.

“Terrorists, particularly, have gone to school on the revelations caused by Snowden,” Clapper said at the Intelligence and National Security Summit.

“Particularly a program in Afghanistan, which he exposed and Glenn Greenwald wrote about, and the day after he wrote about it, the program was shut down by the government of Afghanistan,” Clapper said.

The spy chief appeared to be referring to a May 2014 story on The Intercept — the online news outlet spearheaded by Greenwald — outlining how the National Security Agency (NSA) was “secretly intercepting, recording and archiving the audio of virtually every cellphone conversation” in two nations.

The Intercept said that the program was taking place in the Bahamas and another country, which it declined to name because of concerns that doing so could lead to violence. The Washington Post reported a similar story based on Snowden’s leaks outlining the depths of the NSA’s phone spying ability in a foreign country, which it also declined to name.

Days later, WikiLeaks publicly identified the country as Afghanistan.

The program “was the single most important source of force protection warning for our people in Afghanistan,” Clapper said on Wednesday.

The program in Afghanistan is one of the few instances in which U.S. intelligence officials have publicly detailed how Snowden’s disclosures led to a specific loss in meaningful intelligence or assisted the country’s opponents.

Snowden has become an object of scorn among much of the intelligence world, where his disclosures are believed to have severely damaged the country’s national security and global reputation.

“On the one hand, it forced some needed transparency, particularly on those programs that affected civil liberties and privacy in this country,” Clapper said on Wednesday.

“But he exposed so many other things that had nothing to do with so-called domestic surveillance or civil liberties and privacy in this country,” he added.

Snowden has sought refuge in Russia for the last two years, where he is avoiding espionage charges in the U.S.

If Clinton can store classified emails on a private server, then bring home Snowden - The Hill 20150918

If Clinton can store classified emails on a private server, then bring home Snowden - The Hill 20150918

By H.A. Goodman, contributor

Hillary Clinton might not have broken any laws, but then again, one can breach security protocol and endanger national security simply by making unwise decisions. The former secretary of State's desire to have a private server (for the sake of "convenience") has overshadowed much of the presidential election coverage, without any benefit to the nation, with the Clinton campaign debating security agencies over the definition of classified or unclassified material.

Edward Snowden did break the law, but his actions resulted in a national dialogue about domestic surveillance and forced "needed transparency" — in the words of James Clapper, director of national intelligence — within the shadowy world of domestic spying. Furthermore, while he leaked a tremendous amount of intelligence, the "Top Secret" emails located in the private server of a secretary of State (if indeed Clinton's server didn't have adequate protection) could easily have gotten into enemy hands; it's feasible that North Korean hackers would have an easier time breaking into a private server than a government server.

We now know the extent of America's domestic spying programs because of Snowmen's transgressions and what he did can't legally be defined as treason. His actions weren't motivated by payment from an American enemy, like Aldrich Ames or Robert Hanssen, and when viewed objectively, the end result of his actions could easily be seen as patriotic. In reality, he's a whistleblower who broke the law and no more a threat to national security than when Henry Kissinger claimed Daniel Ellsberg was "the most dangerous man in America" who "must be stopped at all costs."

Yes, Snowden leaked secrets willingly, but Clinton might have leaked secrets simply from knowing too little ("Like with a cloth or something?") or too much about how to hide correspondence from colleagues and government servers. For a defense, Clinton recently stated, "I did not send classified material, and I did not receive any material that was marked or designated classified."

With each passing day, however, these declarations become overshadowed by a growing mountain of evidence indicating that security protocol was breached, even if such behavior was allowed by the State Department. First, Clinton's attorney handed over her email server and thumb drive to the FBI, which is currently investigating the security of Clinton's private email setup. Second, dozens of Clinton's emails were classified from the start, or "born classified," as a former Information Security Oversight Office director noted, so the Clinton campaign can't make the excuse that intelligence agencies retroactively classified intelligence.

While the Clinton campaign has vehemently defended against sending or receiving classified information that was always deemed classified, Reuters explains that "the details included in those 'Classified' stamps — which include a string of dates, letters and numbers describing the nature of the classification — appear to undermine this account."

Most importantly, Clinton did indeed receive classified information on an unprotected (or at least a network not protected by government security) server. According to a recent New York Times article, Clinton's server housed classified and Top Secret emails:

A special intelligence review of two emails that Hillary Rodham Clinton received as secretary of state on her personal account — including one about North Korea's nuclear weapons program — has endorsed a finding by the inspector general for the intelligence agencies that the emails contained highly classified information when Mrs. Clinton received them, senior intelligence officials said. ...

But the special review — by the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency — concluded that the emails were "Top Secret," the highest classification of government intelligence, when they were sent to Mrs. Clinton in 2009 and 2011. ...

I. Charles McCullough III, the inspector general for the intelligence community, found the two emails containing what he determined was "Top Secret" information in the course of reviewing a sampling of 40 of Mrs. Clinton’s work-related emails for potential security breaches.

Therefore, while Clinton claims not to have sent or received classified information, The New York Times reports that both the CIA and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency found that her emails contained "highly classified" and Top Secret (one regarding North Korea's nuclear program) information. In addition, Top Secret emails were found in a sample of just 40 emails, and there were over 60,000 emails on private server Wired deemed a "security fail."

It's important to note that while 30,490 of Clinton's emails were handed over to the State Department, Clinton and her team deleted 31,830 emails without any oversight, and the emails she disclosed to the government will be made public every two months. Yes, it was legal for her to delete these private emails, but nobody knows if they were truly private, or if she deleted even more sensitive information than the data already found by intelligence agencies thus far.

The fact that such information was stored on a private server, without government protection, is bizarre enough. However, the revelation that both Bill and Hillary Clinton paid a former aide to manage her email setup is even more peculiar. According to CNN, Bryan Pagliano was paid to manage the server of America's secretary of State:

Hillary and Bill Clinton personally paid the State Department staffer who managed their private email server, a spokesman for Clinton's campaign confirmed on Saturday. ...

Pagliano, an IT specialist, informed Congress through his lawyer earlier this week that he will invoke the Fifth Amendment.

According to Clinton supporters, there's nothing wrong with using a private server as secretary of State, or receiving classified information on that server, since Hillary Clinton is obviously trustworthy and wouldn't knowingly compromise national security.

But who vetted the people Clinton paid to manage her private server? Most importantly, why do supporters of Clinton simply assume that nothing nefarious could have been contained within the 31,830 emails deleted unilaterally by her and her staff, or that nobody has hacked her private email setup? That's a tremendous amount of trust being given to the former secretary of State, even though most Americans don't find her trustworthy.

If polls are any indication of why Snowden should be treated in the same manner as Clinton, let's compare how both are viewed by the American public. According to HuffPost Pollster, 55 percent of registered voters according to CNN have an "unfavorable" view of Clinton. Yahoo! writes that "More Americans distrust Hillary Clinton than trust her" and according to CNN, 57 percent of Americans say she is "not honest and trustworthy." In 2016, these trust issues have extended to swing states, and Quinnipiac University finds that voters in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania believe Clinton is "not honest and trustworthy."

In contrast, a Pew Research report explains that Snowden's overall impact on a large percentage of Americans has been positive:

Young adults are significantly more supportive than their elders of Edward Snowden and his leaks of classified details of the National Security Agency's telephone and internet surveillance programs, a new Pew Research Center/USA TODAY survey finds.

57% of 18- to 29-year olds said the leaks have served rather than harmed the public interest — almost exact mirrors of the 65-and-over age group.

Younger people believe Snowden served the country by disclosing domestic spying practices, while nobody believes Clinton served the country by using a private server and potentially compromising "classified" information. Yet, Clinton is deemed worthy of the presidency while many voters view Snowden to be a traitor.

Furthermore, Ron Fournier in National Journal summarized the Snowden debate by stating the following:

Love him or hate him, we all owe Snowden our thanks for forcing upon the nation an important debate. But the debate shouldn't be about him. It should be about the gnawing questions his actions raised from the shadows.

It's true that regardless of one’s view of Snowden, most people agree that there's a national debate attributed to Snowden breaking the law and leaking intelligence files.

Hero or traitor, Snowden fostered a critical debate in our country. Clinton simply engaged in the unprecedented act of owning a private server and using it while classified and Top Secret information flowed through its channels. If Clinton can store classified and Top Secret emails on her private server, apologize on Facebook for doing so and claim no laws were broken (therefore nullifying the issue of various breaches of security), and then simply expect to win the presidency, then such trust and leniency should also be afforded to Snowden. The intelligence community should grant Edward Snowden clemency and bring him home, especially in light of the fact that we now have a presidential candidate who truly believes there was nothing wrong with owning a private server as secretary of State.

Edward Snowden has done a lot more good for America by breaking the law than Hillary Clinton did by being "above board" — as Clinton has termed it — with her private email server. If many voters are simply fine with a private server being used for "convenience" while possibly inadvertently jeopardizing U.S. intelligence, then the least we owe Snowden, for bringing the issue of domestic spying to the forefront of the American consciousness, is a ticket back home.