The revelations also opened the door for surveillance reform, particularly through the passage of the USA Freedom Act and the sunsetting of Section 215 and other controversial provisions in the USA Patriot Act.
Snowden currently lives in political asylum in Russia and has repeatedly expressed his desire to come home—and his doubts that he would get a fair trial if he did.
In many ways, the response by the White House is not unexpected. Despite pledging to protect whistleblowers during his campaign for office, Obama has cracked down more on those who expose government misdeeds than any previous president.
Monaco said on Tuesday that if Snowden “felt his actions were consistent with civil disobedience, then he should do what those who have taken issue with their own government do: Challenge it, speak out, engage in a constructive act of protest, and—importantly—accept the consequences of his actions. He should come home to the United States, and be judged by a jury of his peers—not hide behind the cover of an authoritarian regime. Right now, he’s running away from the consequences of his actions.”
But journalist Glenn Greenwald, who along with Laura Poitras and Ewan MacAskill helped publish the NSA files in 2013, has previously noted that Snowden would be barred under the Espionage Act from publicly arguing that his actions were justified. “[A]nyone who has even casually watched the post-9/11 American judicial system knows what an absurdity it is to claim that Snowden would receive a fair trial,” he wrote in June.
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