Edward Snowden Update: US officials support denied clemency

Edward Snowden worked for the US government as a contractor employee.

Edward Snowden worked for the US government as a contractor employee.

The White House and lawmakers rejected Edward Snowden’s plea for clemency last week.  They urged Snowden to return from Russia to the United States to face trial regarding the nearly 200,000 leaked secret government documents.

US senate intelligence committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat of California, expressed that Snowden has done an “enormous disservice to our country,” by leaking these documents publically versus reporting the spying to the government.  Feinstein believes clemency is out of the question for Snowden.

Snowden had requested an opportunity to address members of Congress about US surveillance.  He also asked for international help to petition the US to drop charges against him.  Snowden’s recent agreement to testify in the case regarding the US tapping the German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone has not helped him to gain popularity with the US government.

Rep. Mike Rogers, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, titled clemency for Snowden a “terrible idea.”

“He needs to come back and own up,” said Rogers. “If he believes there’s vulnerabilities in the systems he’d like to disclose, you don’t do it by committing a crime that actually puts soldiers’ lives at risk in places like Afghanistan.”

The senator of Arizona, John McCain, however, has a different view on the NSA scandal.  McCain wants head of the NSA, Keith Alexander, to be held accountable for the leaks of thousands of documents. Arizona senator has called for Alexander to “resign or be fired.”  McCain has noted there was no reason why Snowden, a contractor employee, not a government employee, had access to such classified information.

Within the past few days, officials in Germany have cautioned authorities for the possibility of attacks against US facilities overseas.  As Snowden continues to expose NSA secrets, German citizens are motivated to move towards violent protests.

Dating back to May, Snowden, a former CIA employee and an NSA (National Security Agency) contractor, leaked top-secret information to The Guardian and other media outlets revealing programs like the interception of U.S. and Europe telephone metadata and the PRISM, XKeyscore and Tempora Internet surveillance programs.

The PRISM surveillance program has been in effect for six years.  It collects 10 data types: e-mails, IMs, voice chats, photos, stored data, file transfers, videoconferences, log in times and social network profile details.  Nine tech companies participate.  They include AOL, Apple, Skype, YouTube, Paltalk.com, Facebook, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft.

Snowden exposed a 41 slide powerpoint regarding the inner workings of the PRISM surveillance program.

Snowden said his motive for releasing the confidential files “was to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them.”

In October, Snowden revealed the US had been monitoring calls of 35 world leaders after US officials handed over their contact information.  This information was released closely after Merkel’s allegations came out.  The two coincidentally coincided.

The US has upheld Snowden’s criminal charges of theft of government property, unauthorized communication of national defense information and willful communication of classified communications intelligence information to an unauthorized person.  Due to these charges, Snowden has found asylum in Russia for one year.  They have offered him the ability to renew the asylum on a yearly basis.  This has caused tension between President Barack Obama and Russia’s leader, Vladimir Putin.

While currently residing in Russia, Snowden has accepted a job as a technical support person for Russia’s largest website.  There is a suspicion Snowden is living on donations from the public to pay his lawyer and security fees until he receives his first paycheck.

How do our allies feel?
Recent polls show German citizens
views on US as a reliable partner

German public broadcaster, ARD, reported in
Obama’s first term that
more than three-quarters
of Germans trusted Americans.
The most recent survey, polled after the
NSA scandal, depicts that only
35% of German citizens still see
the US as a reliable partner