(Above) Photo credit: http://glenngreenwald.net/
Check out the following Guardian article:
Charges against Edward Snowden stand, despite telephone surveillance ban
The former NSA contractor revealed the banned surveillance programme, but an Obama administration spokesman says they will not review his charges
The White House refused to reconsider its legal pursuit of Edward Snowden on Monday, while it sought to take credit for outlawing the bulk telephone surveillance programme he revealed.
Obama administration spokesman Josh Earnest rejected the argument that the imminent passage of legislation banning the practice meant it was time to take a fresh look at the charges against the former National Security Agency contractor.
“The fact is that Mr Snowden committed very serious crimes, and the US government and the Department of Justice believe that he should face them,” Earnest told the Guardian at the daily White House press briefing.
“That’s why we believe that Mr Snowden should return to the United States, where he will face due process and have the opportunity to make that case in a court of law.”
Earnest refused to comment on whether Snowden could be allowed to employ a whistleblower defence if he choose to return voluntarily, something his supporters have argued is impossible under current Espionage Act charges.
“Obviously this is something that the Department of Justice would handle if they are having [those conversations],” said Earnest. “The thing I would put out is that there exists mechanisms for whistleblowers to raise concerns about sensitive national security programmes.”
“Releasing details of sensitive national security programmes on the internet for everyone, including our adversaries to see, is inconsistent with those protocols that are established for protecting whistleblowers,” he added.
But the White House placed itself firmly on the side of NSA reform, when asked if the president was “taking ownership” of the USA Freedom Act, which is expected to pass Congress later this week.
“To the extent that we’re talking about the president’s legacy, I would suspect [it] would be a logical conclusion from some historians that the president ended some of these programmes,” replied Earnest.
“This is consistent with the reforms that the president advocated a year and a half ago. And these are reforms that required the president and his team to expend significant amounts of political capital to achieve over the objection of Republicans.”
The administration also avoided four separate opportunities to warn that the temporary loss of separate Patriot Act surveillance provisions that expired alongside bulk collection on Sunday night had put the safety of Americans at risk, as some have claimed.
“All I can do is I can illustrate to you very clearly that there are tools that had previously been available to our national security professionals that are not available today because the Senate didn’t do their job,” said Earnest.
“As a result, there are programmes and tools that our national security professionals themselves say are important to their work that are not available to them right now, as we speak.”
Asked four times by reporters whether that meant Americans were markedly less safe as a result of the standoff in the Senate, the White House spokesman repeatedly said it was up to these national security staff, not him, to say.