It hasn’t quite come to that yet. But would Edward Snowden–who is a civilian, not subject as far as I know to a military trial, really be convicted by an American jury today? I am not advising him to come back to the United States, but I suspect that few politicians or prosecutors, from President Obama on down, would feel confident attacking Snowden right now. Not so much because sympathy for what he did is necessarily so strong, but unease if not anger about what the NSA has done to privacy, twelve years after 2001, has become so widespread that jury nullification would be a very live possibility. I have little doubt that Snowden broke laws. I do not think he stood on solid ground when he asserted in his October 31 letter to Hans-Christian Stroebele, a German lawmaker, that “my government continues to treat dissent as defection, and seeks to criminalize political speech with felony charges.” That strikes me as a bit much–or, in another sense, as too little, in that the stakes should probably be even higher than Snowden claimed. The NSA may well continue to evade oversight, but the agency has shown it has little sense of prudent self-restraint with the latest revelations this week. It sends exactly the wrong signal to an out-of-control child, or intellence agency as the case may be, to not put in the hard work and diligence needed to set limits in a firm, fair way. Are we the people and our representatives up to setting limits on our overfed, idiot savant, gargantuan yet immature national surveillance state?
- Snowden To Speak With Germany About US Spying (bloomberg.com)
- Obama ‘approved tapping Merkel’s phone 3 years ago’ (telegraph.co.uk)
- Greenwald backs German calls for NSA whistleblower Snowden to testify before Bundestag inquiry (irishtimes.com)
- Germany: Prepared to speak with Snowden (hosted.ap.org)
- Germany and Brazil in UN spy draft (bbc.co.uk)