The Case for Pardoning Snowden Just Got Stronger
Edward Snowden entered our public consciousness in June 2013 with a warning: Our democracy will be in grave danger if we don’t impose checks on a ballooning surveillance state.
If citizens don’t fight to curb our government’s capacity to spy on everyone all of the time, he said:
a new leader will be elected, they'll find the switch, say that 'Because of the crisis, because of the dangers we face in the world, some new and unpredicted threat, we need more authority, we need more power.' And there will be nothing the people can do at that point to oppose it. And it will be turnkey tyranny.
That warning may be coming to pass. President-elect Donald Trump will inherit a vast apparatus with the capacity to spy on Americans en masse and to target groups and individuals who he feels have slighted him – whether journalists, protesters, immigrants, or others. His promises to monitor mosques, crack down on our free press, and deport millions conjure terrifying scenarios of how he will use the incredible surveillance powers at his disposal. Unfortunately, our system of checks and balances isn't equipped to exercise the necessary oversight to ensure those powers aren’t abused.
Trump is why we need whistleblowers. Excessive secrecy cloaks our national security policies, hindering our ability to apply democratic scrutiny. Whistleblowers have provided crucial cracks of light enabling some of the most important debates of our time – including the debate Ed sparked when he worked with journalists to inform the public that the government’s surveillance programs had exceeded the bounds of the law and the Constitution.
Now is the time to press President Obama to do the right thing. We know that over the course of the next 10 weeks, he will be working to shore up his legacy. We reiterate our ask that he take into account an American whistleblower who has done so much on behalf of our right to know, and our right to fight.
As Ed told a Dutch audience yesterday:
We should be cautious about putting too much faith or fear in elected officials. We’re never farther than an election away from a change in leader, from a change in policy, a change in the way the powers we have constructed into a system are used. So what we need to think about now is not how do we defend against a President Donald Trump, but how do we protect the rights of everyone, everywhere, without regard to jurisdictions, without regard to borders?
The fight is on – for the world we believe in, the right to dissent, and the duty to speak truth to power. Ed should be able to come home and fight alongside us.
*posted November 11, 2016 by Noa Yachot*