Opinion: No pardon for Edward Snowden unless he pays a price

Edward Snowden
Edward Snowden, via satellite from Moscow, Russia, speaks about a new campaign to persuade President Obama to pardon him, in New York on Sept. 14.
(Justin Lane / EPA)

To the editor: I strongly disagree with the views expressed by Anthony Romero. Whatever his motives, Snowden committed a crime. It would be a miscarriage of justice to pardon him.

Yes, he raised legitimate concerns about National Security Agency surveillance, but there would have been legal avenues for him to pursue.

( “House report slams Snowden as a ‘serial’ liar,” Sept. 16, “Two whistle-blowers, one celebrity,” Opinion, Sept. 16, and “He deserves a pardon,” Opinion, Sept. 19)

If Snowden is such a hero, why did he choose Russia to hide out?


Does anyone know what secrets were turned over to the Russians?

We live in dangerous times. Our military is now actively engaged in several countries. Security breaches initiated by China and Russia are commonplace.

I believe Snowden’s files harmed our national security and aided our enemies. He should return to the U.S., stand trial and take his punishment.

Marvin Klein, Pacific Palisades



To the editor: Romero believes Edward Snowden deserves a pardon for betraying his country. He seems to base this on the belief that the government was wrong and invading privacy.

I disagree. The government was looking at meta-data, not listening to phone calls or reading emails and, frankly, I wish it would. The laws enacted because of this affair are paranoid, knee-jerk reactions that will only damage our ability to fight terrorism. Not agreeing with government policy or laws is no grounds to break the law oneself.

John Gleason, Camarillo


To the editor: How about the folks in the Bush/Cheney administration who did more to damage our true national security than anything Edward Snowden did? Let’s bring them to the bar of justice first, and then we can consider Snowden.

Bob Teigan, Santa Susana



To the editor: I am a left-of-center Democrat who sometimes supports the ACLU — not this time. Snowden is not a hero, he’s a coward.

Whistle-blowers like Daniel Ellsberg (the Pentagon Papers) deserve our respect because they acted on conscience in disclosing government secrets and then stuck around to take the consequences.

Snowden, on the other hand, took off and — to the undoubted glee of Vladimir Putin — is now holed up in Russia refusing to face the music.

I would probably not support a pardon even if Snowden returned and was tried and convicted, but as far as I am concerned he is nothing more than a criminal on the run who betrayed his pledge of confidentiality and has no right to forgiveness.

Barbara H. Bergen, Los Angeles


To the editor: Both Snowden and former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning had the opportunity to bring their concerns to the appropriate elected officials but both decided instead to leak sensitive information to the public.

This is not whistle-blowing, it is a publicity stunt to hype their own agendas. Both should spend the rest of their lives in prison.


Alan Coles, Long Beach


To the editor: Better to ask the directly affected individuals whose lives were put at risk, whose sensitive national operations were jeopardized, whose liberties were violated and whose security interests were knowingly compromised, as to whether Snowden is worthy of leniency.

Snowden had options before going public. Those mentioned above did not.

And, I think those individuals probably would not excuse Snowdon’s objectively illegal actions, regardless of the overinflated benefits those actions might have achieved.

Paul Goldman, Tarzana


To the editor: The whole mess with Snowden illustrates just how screwed-up the government is: I believe the government commits multiple, gross, secret violations of the Constitution, and Snowden is the bad guy for pointing that out? What kind of twisted logic is that?

Jeanne Mount, Beverly Hills


To the editor: I like to think that Snowden exposing the flagrant abuses of the state to eavesdrop on all Americans without warrant is heroic. But I believe heroes are born of their sacrifice. Running to Russia is far from heroic. So for Snowden to be considered a hero to me, he must serve time in a U.S. prison before any pardon.

Alex Downs, Long Beach


To the editor: As a U.S. Army veteran, I am sure I’m not alone among my comrades in viewing any exoneration of Snowden as deeply offensive. In the oath to defend this country and protect its interests, there is no “unless” clause.

America has genuine enemies, and its citizens are increasingly endangered by tech-topians like Snowden, who seem to believe that the world is as lacking in physical consequence as the Internet is.

They confuse lack of experience with virtue and can usually be counted on to value their personal integrity over the safety of everyone else.

Michael Jenning, Van Nuys


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