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‘I already won’: Snowden is helping the NSA though it brands him a traitor

Edward Snowden has said he feels satisfied and a winner despite the espionage charges confronting him. Denying claims he is a traitor, Snowden said he is working to improve the NSA, something that US spy chiefs do not realize.

In an interview with the Washington Post, Snowden said that he  had “already won” because society has begun to address the issue  of government surveillance.

“For me, in terms of personal satisfaction, the mission’s  already accomplished,” said the whistleblower.   “Remember, I didn’t want to change society. I wanted to give  society a chance to determine if it should change itself.”

He went on to defend his actions, saying that accusations from  NSA brass that he violated an oath of loyalty were baseless. If  anyone is guilty of such crimes, Snowden said, it is the national  security establishment.

“The oath of allegiance is not an oath of secrecy,”   Snowden said. “That is an oath to the constitution. That is  the oath that I kept that [NSA Director] Keith Alexander and  [Director of National Intelligence] James Clapper did not.”

The heads of the spy agency have repeatedly criticized Edward  Snowden’s actions, claiming they endangered the global battle  against terrorism and by extension put American citizens at risk.  However, Snowden says his main aims were to allow society the  chance to determine if it wanted to change and to improve the  NSA.

The Obama Administration has called for Snowden to be returned to  the US to face charges of espionage. However, if the  whistleblower returns he would likely not be allowed to tell a  jury about his motivation to blow the whistle on far-reaching NSA  surveillance programs.

“If Edward Snowden comes back to the US to face trial, it is  likely he will not be able to tell a jury why he did what he did,  and what happened because of his actions,” wrote Trevor Timm  of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, which published a report  investigating recent crimes of this nature.

The US Department of Justice first filed charges against Snowden  in late June but the discussion has resurfaced because some  officials have pushed for amnesty if he surrenders any  still-unpublished classified National Security Agency files. Many  politicians have suggested that Snowden should emerge from asylum  in Russia and stand trial, although they have not suggested the  whistleblower should go free of charges.

“We believe he should come back, he should be sent back, and  he should have his day in court,” National Security Advisor  Susan Rice told CBS Sunday.

Representative Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), the chair of the House  Intelligence Committee who previously joked that Snowden should  be added to a “kill list,” also said the NSA leaker  should face trial in the US.

“I do think he should come home – I’d personally pay for his  plane ticket – and be held accountable for his actions,”   Rogers told ABC.

Yet these statements, either by accident or intentionally,  overlook that Snowden, 30, has been charged with the Espionage  Act and faces the likelihood that not all of his testimony will  be allowed to be heard by a jury or into the court record at all.  Individuals charged with the Espionage Act, which was signed into  law during World War I, rarely go to trial, something that  remains true under the Obama administration’s especially  aggressive crackdown on whistleblowers.

The American public saw this most recently in the trial of  Chelsea Manning, the former Army private charged with Espionage  for leaking hundreds of thousands of State Department cables and  video footage from Iraq and Afghanistan to WikiLeaks.

Manning’s defense team said that she hoped to expose to US  citizens some of the atrocities that were conducted in their  name. Manning also sought to prove that the leaks had done no  damage to US national security, but all of these factors were  ruled inadmissible until the sentencing phase of the trial.

Manning would be found guilty and sentenced to 35 years in a  federal prison.

A federal judge ruled in October 2012 that former CIA officer  John Kiriakou, who was charged with the Espionage Act because he  made unauthorized disclosures to the media regarding torture  programs, was not allowed to argue at trial that he did not  intend to harm the US.

Instead of taking his chances, Kiriakou opted to plead guilty and  serve a prison term of no more than five years.

Yet Snowden is facing 30 years behind bars, along with stiff  fines. If he eventually does go to trial in the US he could face  the same treatment Kiriakou and Manning did, even if his  disclosures sparked a conversation that was still going strong  six months after he fled to Russia.








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