After both The New York Times and The Guardian editorial boards published editorials asking for clemency or at least a deal for whistleblower Edward Snowden, the debate continues. Is Snowden a hero or a traitor?
This week, on CNN with host Jake Tapper, a fiery debate broke out between Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus and Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald. Greenwald controls the majority of Snowden’s leaked documents.
Marcus told Tapper that Snowden should have tested the constitutional system and taken his punishment instead of fleeing the country.
This did not sit well with Greenwald who fired back at Marcus and condemned the Washington media establishment.
“Ruth Marcus’ argument exemplifies everything that’s really horrible about the D.C. media … People in Washington continuously make excuses for those in power when they break the law,” said Greenwald.
“People in Washington who are well-connected to the government, like she is, do not believe that the law applies to them … That’s what people in Washington do. They would never call on someone like James Clapper, who got caught lying to Congress, which is a felony, to be prosecuted. They only pick on people who embarrass the government and the administration to which they are loyal like Edward Snowden. It’s not about the rule of law,” he added.
Greenwald stated that Snowden knew there was no way inside the system to make his fellow citizens aware of what their government was doing to their privacy.
General Michael Hayden, the former director of the National Security Agency, said on Sunday’s Face the Nation that Snowden doesn’t deserve our adulation.
Hayden pointed out that Snowden, who he said was responsible for the “most serious hemorrhaging of American secrets in the history of American espionage,” has openly offered to leak additional information to the governments of Germany and Brazil in exchange for asylum. “I think there’s an English word that describes selling American secrets to another government, and that’s ‘treason,’” Hayden said.
In late November, clemency for Snowden was shot down by the White House and leading House and Senate intelligence officials. The Guardian reported that the Obama administrator was offering no deal; they wanted Snowden to return to the United States to face trial.
Despite the Obama administration’s position, there is a dramatic trend shifting in Snowden’s favor as new NSA revelations come out. A top Obama official, Anne-Marie Slaughter, the former State Department director of policy planning, said she agreed with an editorial in The New York Times that argued Snowden was “clearly justified in believing that the only way to blow the whistle on this kind of intelligence-gathering was to expose it to the public and let the resulting furor do the work his superiors would not.”