The President’s dance card is certainly very full as his final days in office drain away. Among his most persistent suitors are those seeking pardons and one name which keeps cropping up on that list is accused spy Edward Snowden. Shortly after finding out that he won’t be free to pick up a prestigious award next month he was back at it again this week in an interview with none other than Katie Couric at Yahoo (she of Under the Gun fame).
In the short video excerpt below you can hear Snowden making his case to Couric as to why he doesn’t deserve such harsh treatment. It’s not that he didn’t do anything wrong, you see. It’s just that other people – like David Patraeus – have done so much worse and not faced any serious charges.
“Perhaps the best-known case in recent history here is Gen. Petraeus — who shared information that was far more highly classified than I ever did with journalists,” he said. “And he shared this information not with the public for their benefit, but with his biographer and lover for personal benefit — conversations that had information, detailed information, about military special-access programs, that’s classified above top secret, conversations with the president and so on.”
“When the government came after him, they charged him with a misdemeanor,” Snowden continued. “He never spent a single day in jail, despite the type of classified information he exposed.”
What our famous subject fails to note is that the General gave classified information to his girlfriend which he retrieved from her a few days later and it never made it into the public sphere. Snowden’s mountain of classified material not only showed up on the internet but was no doubt thoroughly reviewed and categorized by the Russians and the Chinese before we ever got a look at it. But that’s just quibbling over details I’m sure.
So why is Snowden in a hurry to suddenly seal a deal now? Well, for one thing he obviously knows that Donald Trump is going to be in office soon and both the PEOTUS and several people in his growing inner circle have previously called Snowden a traitor and suggested he should be executed. That doesn’t sound like a team that’s going to be getting all warm and fuzzy about the idea of giving you a fresh start. (Unless you mean the start of a very long stretch in the Crowbar Motel.)
I somehow doubt this will pay off for him. Let’s keep in mind that this isn’t the first time Snowden has run this particular suggestion up the flagpole. He used the opportunity of the opening of a new and highly sympathetic film about him to ask Barack Obama for a pardon back in September. This request prompted both Democrats and Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee to remind the President that he’d previously said Snowden was no patriot and they urged him not to consider a pardon.
It’s not hard to see who won that battle. It was only two weeks ago (after the election was over and done with) when Obama did an interview in Germany and said yet again that he can’t offer Snowden a pardon.
Obama weighed in on the matter on Friday. During his European tour, he was interviewed by Der Spiegel—the largest newspaper in Germany, a country where Snowden is particularly popular. After discussing a wide range of issues, he was asked: Are you going to pardon Edward Snowden?
Obama replied: “I can’t pardon somebody who hasn’t gone before a court and presented themselves, so that’s not something that I would comment on at this point.”
The President’s comments actually do offer the hint of a possibility that there might be a deal possible for the thief, but he’s making that contingent upon Snowden “presenting himself” before a court to make the request. At that point he would already be under arrest and most of his bargaining power would be gone. I suppose Obama could surprise us all and toss out an offer in a fit of pique, but it just strikes me as unlikely. There’s no benefit to his legacy in that sort of move. For now it looks like Edward Snowden should get used to the idea of living in Russia for a very long time. And he should probably pray that Trump isn’t anywhere near as friendly with Vladimir Putin as Democrats like to suggest. If the new president cooks up a rapprochement deal with the Russians and it included turning Snowden over to us there likely wouldn’t be any sort of deal at all aside from a great deal of time in Leavenworth.