Pardon Me Mr. President
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The American president has the unique ability to circumvent the justice system by issuing official pardons to anyone of his choosing. Unlike most executive powers, the authority to grant clemency is unchecked by Congress and cannot be reviewed, blocked or overturned.
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Pardon me Mr. President, yes excuse me … Now that I have your attention, I would like to make the case for you to grant clemency to Edward Snowden. No , I doubt Barack Obama spends his nights scouring through the pages of PowerFist.US but, this website is not alone in the call for our president to pardon the now infamous whistleblower. Recently both the New York Times and the Guardian have released articles stating similar rationale. I mention those publications in my articles concerning Mr. Snowden often because (along with the Washington post) the Guardian and The New York Times were chosen by him to distribute the disturbing information about the extent of the N.S.A.’s spying apparatus. And while I do not always tend to echo the sentiment of other publications, in this instance I do. My reasons however differ slightly from theirs as to why Edward Snowden should actually be granted clemency.
The first of my reasons has to do with the momentous occasion that was the press conference held in the white house on January, 17th 2014. Our President, now properly motivated by the worldwide reaction to Edward Snowden’s leaks, was prompted to issue a 42 point review on the N.S.A.’s security apparatus. When it was first announced that Barack Obama would be undertaking such a review he stated that in a way, he was even thankful for the leaks being discussed, due to it granting him a rare opportunity to review the largely secretive laws and communications that make this sort of intelligence gathering possible. It has been seven months since Edward Snowden first blew his “whistle heard round the world”, and seven months of public uproar over the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of phone-record information on almost all Americans. During that time the program has been analyzed and dissected by both the left and the right hoping to elaborate how closely our current National Security situation resembles that of the novel 1984, even sparking the novel’s brief return to the N.Y. times best seller list. These infractions, while largely covered up, were not unknown to a certain circle of our citizenry included among them journalists, and most of our State Representatives, and Senators. In fact Democratic Representative Jerrold Nadler of the Upper West Side of New York even went so far as to say last June, “When it came to the NSA’s data collection, Snowden revealed nothing that hadn’t been well known and hotly debated for seven years.”
It has been claimed for years by conspiracy theorist that the NSA was massively spying on U.S. citizens, systematically tracking their phone calls, e-mails, and movements. Thanks to Edward Snowden, this narrative has solidified into conventional wisdom and popular fact. Americans widely believe that they are on the government’s radar, their every conversation eavesdropped on. In fact a recent research poll by the Pew group found that some 25% of Americans believe that the N.S.A is actively listening to our phone calls, even though according to Edward Snowden’s leaks this does not seem the case or even possible. It doesn’t change the fact that for many this is now a reasonable notion.
Getting back to the case for Mr. Snowden’s pardon, it seems illogical to be thankful for an individual’s actions only to later prosecute said individual for the very actions you profess to be “thankful” for.
Logic is a rare site in Washington D.C. but that doesn’t mean my hopes for it prevailing are a whimsical idea. Presidents historically often pardoned or commute sentences. In regards to issuing pardons, George Bush was considered one of our most cautious presidents in regard to his strokes of the pen and handing out presidential pardons. Yet even he signed his name some 189 times, granting full pardons and commuting another 11 persons sentences. Former President Bill Clinton, whose last 100 days and indeed his last 100 hours broke land speed records for the quick movements of his pen. President Clinton managed to pardon and grant clemency to some 456 persons. On January 20th 2001 he managed to pardon 140 people in the final day of his administration, not forgetting to pardon his hapless brother Roger Clinton Jr. President Obama, to this point has only pardoned some 50 individuals, a figure which puts him far behind his last democratic counterpart. The list of crimes that make up the group of citizens pardoned by our current president ranges from conspiracy to the mutilation of coins, and while I am not familiar with all of their cases respectively, I can tell you that none of those people put themselves to sacrifice in the same manner of public spectacle that Edward Snowden has.
I believe myself to be a patriot. Though it is flawed, I love this nation. I would defend it with my life if called upon, if threatened I would willingly volunteer to protect its shores from invaders. I am so, and would do so not because of logic, but rather love. It is love for what this country “could be” and not what it “has been”, it is love for what this country protects, not just its ideals but more viscerally my family, my friends, and my other loved ones who benefit from the security of its borders. It is my reasoning that this is why Mr. Snowden acted. His family, his friends and his loved ones are still here being protected and basking in the “freedoms” that have been established and hard fought to be preserved. It is his love for those people and this nation that caused his sacrificial act. To a certain extent he sought to protect the ideals that we all shelter under for protection. Now he is a man who can no longer return to the country and the countrymen he so loved and sought to protect, and to me that is perhaps the greatest travesty of all. It is incomprehensible to prosecute a patriot of this caliber. Now that the president has reviewed his stance on National Security perhaps he can review his stance on Edward Snowden too. But until the day when President Barack Obama finally pardons Edward Snowden, I hope logic will prevail.