White House Rejects Pardon for Edward Snowden

The White House today released an official statement rejecting a "We the People" online pardon petition for Edward Snowden. The petition had 167,000 signatures.

Dan Froomkin at the Intercept has more.

The White House response was written by Lisa Monaco. She includes this:

“He should come home to the United States, and be judged by a jury of his peers.”

How can he be judged by a jury without an opportunity to explain his defense? According to Glenn Grennwald:

He’s barred under the Espionage Act even from arguing that his leaks were justified; he wouldn’t be permitted to utter a word about that.


Glenn cites an article by Trevor Trim:

If Edward Snowden comes back to the US to face trial, he likely will not be able to tell a jury why he did what he did, and what happened because of his actions. Contrary to common sense, there is no public interest exception to the Espionage Act. Prosecutors in recent cases have convinced courts that the intent of the leaker, the value of leaks to the public, and the lack of harm caused by the leaks are irrelevant—and are therefore inadmissible in court.

....[under recent case law] the administration will be able to exclude almost all knowledge beneficial to his case from a jury until he’s already been found guilty of felonies that will have him facing decades, if not life, in jail.

This would mean Snowden could not be able to tell the jury that his intent was to inform the American public about the government’s secret interpretations of laws used to justify spying on millions of citizens without their knowledge, as opposed to selling secrets to hostile countries for their advantage.

The Sixth Amendment guarantees the right to a trial by a jury of one's peers and the right to a fair trial. How can a trial at which one is precluded from raising his defense be considered fair?

Every American should be outraged that leakers and whistleblowers are being prosecuted under an espionage statute without ever having to show they meant to harm the U.S. or that any harm actually occurred.

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    re John Kiriakou (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by zaitztheunconvicted on Tue Jul 28, 2015 at 10:01:29 PM EST
    why not create some online petitions or agitation for pardon for him, given that he pled guilty based on his inability to tell his side of the story?

    John Kiriakou was the CIA fellow who told the rest of us, for the first time, apparently, about some of the CIA waterboarding, which at least some persons consider torture and a potential crime . . .

    Apparently revealing the criminal conduct of the US gov is a crime under the Espionage act?

    by the way, I don't suppose it is possible to ask what US attorney was responsible for prosecuting him, so that I and other can pray that God show this US attorney the right way, by name?

    I get to pray for this fellow, that God show him the right way, who used the Espionage Act to go after a fellow who revealed waterboarding, but only anonymously?


    The official DOJ press release on his sentencing (none / 0) (#3)
    by Peter G on Tue Jul 28, 2015 at 10:22:31 PM EST
    Nearly 65 years ex post facto, ... (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Tue Jul 28, 2015 at 10:28:00 PM EST
    ... most Americans who remember the infamous Rosenberg case and trial are probably still firmly convinced that Ethel Rosenberg was guilty of espionage, a capital crime for which she was later executed at New York's Sing Sing Prison in 1953.

    Yet thanks to the recent release of her brother David Greenglass's grand jury testimony in that case, considerable doubt has now been cast upon both the strength and the veracity of the government's case against Mrs. Rosenberg, raising the likelihood that the United States both knowingly convicted her on the basis of clearly perjured testimony, and then proceeded to execute a likely innocent woman.

    In sharp contrast to his grand jury testimony, a significant portion of David Greenglass's trial testimony -- specifically that which implicated his own sister Ethel in David's and Julius Rosenberg's scheme to pass atomic secrets to the Soviet Union -- appears to have been little more than outright fabrication, a duplicitous effort to save his own hide as well as that of his wife, Ruth.

    Further, given that these major discrepancies in both Greenglass's grand jury and his trial testimony appears to have not caused federal prosecutors much if any concern, the authorities obviously had little or no problem condemning a likely innocent woman to share her husband's fate in the electric chair. More chillingly, did they knowingly suborn Greenglass's perjury about his sister in an effort to get Julius to talk -- by threatening his wife?

    Rather have those prosecutors face the shame of subsequent exposure during their own lifetimes, presiding Federal Judge Irving Kaufman ordered the grand jury testimony of the Rosenberg case sealed. And the truly sad part about this is that on the occasion of Judge Alvin Hellerstein's reversal of Kaufman's original order two weeks ago, only a few media outlets such as The Guardian, USA Today and US News & World Report saw fit to cover this important story.

    I am fairly certain that history will eventually vindicate Edward Snowden for his actions. But I'm also resigned to the fact that it will probably be quite a while before that finally happens, and likely not in our own lifetimes. Further, that occasion, if and when it finally comes, may well be met with a yawning indifference by our own progeny, not unlike how the new revelations in U.S. v. Rosenberg are being greeted today.


    oh . . . (none / 0) (#6)
    by zaitztheunconvicted on Tue Jul 28, 2015 at 11:40:34 PM EST
    I have posted a post about the Rosenberg prosecution on my blog and sent a link to local news media

    How interesting . . . one of the prosecutors supposedly said that the charge against Ethel Rosenberg was a bluff and she had called the gov's bluff  . . .

    Julius died after the first electric shock . . . Ethel Rosenberg was killed after 5 electric shocks.  Normally 3 is sufficient; in many cases, one is sufficient . . . after the 3rd electric shock, attendants removed the strapping from Ethel Rosenberg and doctors determined that her heart was still beating.  She was given 2 more electric shocks and at this point, smoke was rising from her head in the execution chamber . . .

    . . . The judge was Irving Kaufman. The prosecutor was Irving Saypol, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.


    Irving Kaufman eventually became (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by Peter G on Wed Jul 29, 2015 at 09:19:18 AM EST
    Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. When I was much younger I argued before him. An awful person and and awful judge. The best know of the prosecutors (and the one who knowingly elicited the perjured testimony against Ethel R) was not Saypol but rather the odious Roy Cohn, who later gained notoriety for serving Sen. Joseph McCarthy in his witch hunt "investigation" of supposed Communists in the U.S. Army. Cohn's later death from AIDS led to his being portrayed as a character in Tony Kushner's "Angels in America."

    In "Angels in America," ... (none / 0) (#13)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Wed Jul 29, 2015 at 08:26:25 PM EST
    ... the ghost of Ethel Rosenberg (Meryl Streep) returns occasionally to haunt the dying Roy Cohn (Al Pacino). One can only hope that was actually the case, because that vile troll of a man certainly deserved it and more.

    What truly wretched prosecutorial excesses the Espionage Act has wrought upon our country.


    a change.org petition (none / 0) (#9)
    by zaitztheunconvicted on Wed Jul 29, 2015 at 09:59:05 AM EST
    those who wish, try this . . .

    by the way . . . (none / 0) (#10)
    by zaitztheunconvicted on Wed Jul 29, 2015 at 11:50:19 AM EST
    It may interest you (and/or Anne and/or the various others) who are irritated with me or my blog to know that last summer, in addition to my walks at Greenlake in skimpy undies, I did some walks in downtown Seattle with a sign on Vitamin D awareness.  By "walks," I mean, walks in next to nothing in terms of clothing . . . enough to have the police less bothered than feeling they need to arrest and little enough to be unusual . . .

    And I have wondered if I should do some more public service awareness walks this year . . . in downtown Seattle . . . and if so, what information or causes I might mention or promote or discuss.  Should I do vitamin D again, "smart meters," hot-or-not, anorexia discussion or something else entirely?  Of course, hot-or-not is out of city . . .

    So, now I have some great new topic ideas: Ethel Rosenberg framed, John Kiriakou and the unjust Espionage Act and maybe some others . . .

    So visiting this blog has been very productive!


    I just recently watched the (5.00 / 4) (#7)
    by Anne on Wed Jul 29, 2015 at 07:37:48 AM EST
    documentary, "Silenced," so I can't say that I'm surprised at the Obama administration's decision regarding Snowden; the treatment of Tom Drake, John Kiriakou and Jesselyn Radack was just a preview of coming attractions, and foreshadowed nothing if not the relentless efforts that would be made to punish Snowden.

    Pardon him?  There's no way this administration is going to do that.  In fact, I'd say they've probably committed to doubling down on bringing the full force and effect of the government down on him.

    Of all the things that have come out of the Obama administration, this particular aspect, the effort to shut down dissent in a most undemocratic and fully authoritarian way, the zeal to punish people of conscience, doesn't get a lot of attention.  It goes to the back burner while people praise and marvel at progressive accomplishments.  It's not that those accomplishments aren't real or aren't valuable - they are - but I can't reconcile them with this authoritarian, boot-to-the-neck attitude and policy.  

    The evil that lurks and flourishes under cover of seductive progressive democratic populism may be worse, really, than the kind that's right in your face.

    Unfortunately, Anne, and not unlike ... (none / 0) (#12)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Wed Jul 29, 2015 at 02:10:11 PM EST
    ... what happened in the Rosenberg case in 1950-51, the present targets of the federal government's wrath in these matters now have little or nothing left to lose, while those whose own duplicity and chicanery leaves them potentially vulnerable probably still maintain some sort of affiliation, loose or otherwise, with the federal government.

    Therefore, the persecution of these aforementioned targets is likely far less about seeking justice on behalf of the country, and much more about certain people endeavoring to cover their own a$$es in these miserable affairs.

    And as long as these particular individuals are still around and have some influence over the government's actions and proceedings, I seriously doubt that we will see any real resolution in any of these cases for quite some time.



    "Thanks" for signing a petition (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by KeysDan on Wed Jul 29, 2015 at 01:52:10 PM EST
    about Edward Snowden, the official response to the petition to pardon Edward Snowden, begins.    It was so important, what with 167, 955 signatures,  that the matter was referred to Lisa Monaco, Homeland Security Advisor and former Ebola Coordinator., who never addressed the issue of pardon per se.  

    Only, reiterated the charges and the call to come home and face the music--complete with all the sour notes of that relic, the Espionage Act of 1917, whose applicability to whistleblowers rather than World War I subversives and spies was not iterated or reiterated.

    "Mr. Snowden's decision to steal and disclose classified information had severe consequences for the security of our country...."  It is questionable if Whistleblowers "steal" information, or "reveal" information about government  excesses, abuses or illegalities. .  But, it is unquestionable that Edward Snowden did not disclose information.  Snowden provided it to news organizations for them to cull and disclose: Guardian, WaPO, NyT and the Intercept disclosed the information.  

    And, as if to a class of schoolchildren, Ms. Monaco lectures that "we live in a dangerous world."  Well, that is surely a persuasive argument.  Almost as much so, as "..our intelligence community must have all the lawful tools it needs.."   Yes, that is the point--the lawful tools. We need look no farther than James Clapper to find an official who lied and oversaw illegalities.   And, affirmed by federal judges.

    Edward Snowden was an agent of change.  Changes implemented subsequently, by the president and congress.  It is not surprising that President Obama did not pardon Snowden, the "severe consequences" of his actions have been demonstrated to be, essentially,  those of embarrassment.

    No, pardon was always out of the question,  After all, not even an apology was given to Evo Morales, President of Bolivia who was on official business, for the grounding and routing of his plane to Vienna on the rumor that Snowden was a stowaway.   Perhaps, Ms. Monaco could come up with a simple regret for Morales.  After all he is not covered by the Espionage Act.

    But, anyway, thanks.   (for nothing).

    Ironic... (5.00 / 2) (#15)
    by lentinel on Thu Jul 30, 2015 at 05:37:44 AM EST
    that "Edward Snowden was an agent of change", and all too often, Obama, the person running on the slogan, "Change you can believe in", has been the agent of the status quo.

    This rejection by (5.00 / 3) (#14)
    by lentinel on Thu Jul 30, 2015 at 05:33:58 AM EST
    the Obama White House is emblematic of the true nature of his disappointing Presidency.

    thanks (none / 0) (#1)
    by zaitztheunconvicted on Tue Jul 28, 2015 at 09:55:01 PM EST
    thanks for the information . . . about the unfairness  of the Espionage act . . .

    a change.org petition . . . (none / 0) (#5)
    by zaitztheunconvicted on Tue Jul 28, 2015 at 10:29:58 PM EST
    a change.org petition re the Espionage act . . .

    Does anyone wish to help make the world a slightly better place?

    And, if you do pray . . . and if you think praying is a nice thought or that God might even conceivably show up somehow . . . and if you regard the prosecution of Kiriakou as wrong as I do . . . then, consider praying that God show Iris Lan, Mark Schneider and Ryan Fayhee the right way!

    Zechariah 5:3 . . .