One of my business partners worked at the NSA. And interestingly he worked there during the time of Snowden.
I mentioned the movie of Snowden that Hollywood produced. My friend said the film was full of fluff. He said Snowden wasn’t as brilliant as Hollywood made him. And my friend was openly angry that Snowden may have cost operatives their lives.
I’m still not sure which side of this issue I’m on. Because during the time of Bush, then Obama, our rights were violated beyond belief.
And apparently a court agrees. The ACLU tweeted:
BREAKING: A federal appeals court just ruled that the NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records was illegal. This ruling, which confirms what we have always known, is a victory for our privacy rights.
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This ruling, which confirms what we have always known, is a victory for our privacy rights.
— ACLU (@ACLU) September 2, 2020
Snowden was obviously elated. He tweeted:
Seven years ago, as the news declared I was being charged as a criminal for speaking the truth, I never imagined that I would live to see our courts condemn the NSA’s activities as unlawful and in the same ruling credit me for exposing them. And yet that day has arrived.
Seven years ago, as the news declared I was being charged as a criminal for speaking the truth, I never imagined that I would live to see our courts condemn the NSA's activities as unlawful and in the same ruling credit me for exposing them.
And yet that day has arrived. https://t.co/FRdG2zUA4U
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) September 2, 2020
“There are a lot of people that think that he is not being treated fairly. I mean, I hear that,” Trump told the newspaper.
“Many people are on his side, I will say that. I don’t know him, never met him. But many people are on his side.”
Trump has not always had this stance with Snowden. It wasn’t that long ago that Trump called Snowden a “traitor,” worthy of execution.
Rep. Matt Gaetz quickly threw his hat in the ring for a pardon. Gaetz tweeted:
“Edward @Snowden deserves a pardon from President @realDonaldTrump”
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) September 3, 2020
Supporters of Snowden and the journalists who assisted in breaking the story internationally, namely Glen Greenwald, Laura Poitras and others, said the NSA program was a massive violation of citizens’ 4th Amendment protections. The 9th Circuit agreed. Politico notes:
Judge Marsha Berzon’s opinion, which contains a half-dozen references to the role of former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden in disclosing the NSA metadata program, concludes that the “bulk collection” of such data violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
I don’t believe Trump cares about the political optics of his decision. If Snowden deserves to be freed, Trump will free him. But what I like best is that Trump is not in lock-step with his attorney general. AG Barr said recently that he would oppose such a pardon. I wonder how all the liberals who say Barr is Trump’s puppet explain that difference of opinion?
As I said earlier, my friend who worked at the NSA with Snowden believes Snowden got people killed. Further, my friend believes that Snowden compromised intelligence assets and set America back years in the spy game. I’m not qualified to know the answer to that. It’s certainly tragic, if true.
But I do know that no federal agency should spy on innocent Americans. And no federal agent should lie to FISA courts.
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