The White House on Tuesday ended two years of ignoring a hugely popular whitehouse.gov petition calling for NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden to be “immediately issued a full, free, and absolute pardon,” saying thanks for signing, but no.
“We live in a dangerous world,” Lisa Monaco, President Obama’s adviser on homeland security and terrorism, said in a statement.
In Tuesday’s response, the White House acknowledged that “This is an issue that many Americans feel strongly about.”
Monaco then explained her position: “Instead of constructively addressing these issues, Mr. Snowden’s dangerous decision to steal and disclose classified information had severe consequences for the security of our country and the people who work day in and day out to protect it.”
Snowden didn’t actually disclose any classified information — news organizations including the Guardian, Washington Post, New York Times and The Intercept did the disclosing. And the Obama administration has yet to specify any “severe consequences” that can be independently confirmed.
Echoing the views of the most hardline Snowden critics, Monaco continued: “If he 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.”
Intercept founding editor Glenn Greenwald, one of the journalists to whom Snowden entrusted his archive, has frequently responded to that argument, noting that Snowden is willing to accept the legal consequences of his acts — but, were he to come home under the current circumstances, would be barred under the draconian Espionage Act from publicly arguing that his leaks were justified.
The Snowden response was one of 20 responses to what the White House called “our We the People backlog.” The White House had been criticized for avoiding uncomfortable topics despite their popular support.
On Twitter, the responses to the Snowden response, some from signers of the petition, were highly critical: