Edward Snowden became a household name in 2013 when he blew the whistle on the National Security Agency’s intrusive domestic surveillance programs. Snowden revealed to the public through The Guardian and journalist Glenn Greenwald that the NSA was illegally gathering information on millions of Americans who were accused of no wrongdoing. Recently, President Trump told reporters that he will look carefully at “the Snowden situation”, bringing the whistleblower back into the public eye.
Snowden, who now lives in Russia under asylum, has been seen as a controversial figure by the American people. Snowden quickly became one of the most wanted people in America and regarded as a traitor to the world’s most powerful and dangerous government. His whistleblowing put a large target on his head and its completely unwarranted.
Snowden should be seen as an American hero and lauded for his brave and selfless act. Snowden should have been pardoned by Obama when this all took place. Instead, the Obama administration prosecuted whistleblowers at a historically unprecedented rate. And now that Trump has implied, he would look into pardoning Snowden, many powerful people have been against the idea. Former director of the NSA and CIA Michael Hayden has argued: “Whistleblowing requires someone to actually point out a violation of law and [Snowden] has not done that”. Hayden is known for intentionally misleading Congress when he testified in 2007 on the CIA’s interrogation and detention program.
To pardon Snowden, however, would mean the American would have to acknowledge that the NSA violated Americans’ rights against unreasonable searches and seizures. Trump will most likely not pardon him and only made those comments to stir the media into a frenzy and cause more disruption to the public.
Nevertheless, It would be morally correct to pardon him and something Biden should be considering. Instead, Biden warned countries in 2013 against granting the whistleblower asylum, according to Snowden during an interview on MSNBC. For now, Edward Snowden is branded a traitor and exiled from the country he served for years.