Last night at the Democratic presidential debate, leftist favorite Bernie Sanders clarified his feelings about National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.
“I think Snowden played a very important role in educating the American public … he did break the law, and I think there should be a penalty to that,” Sanders said. He went on to say that the role Snowden played in educating the public about violations of their civil liberties should be considered before he is sentenced, and that as president he would “absolutely” end the NSA spying programs in question.
To read between the lines: Bernie thinks Edward Snowden did the right thing, but hey, laws are laws. If elected, though, it sounds like he’ll make sure Snowden gets a really nice jail cell.
Bernie was quick to point out that what Snowden did was illegal, and that he should face the consequences for it. Instead of calling for stronger legal protections for whistleblowers, or offering to pardon Snowden if elected, he called for the former NSA contractor to come home and face trial in a country with a dodgy record of imprisoning and prosecuting whistleblowers, dissidents, activists and journalists.
But notably absent from his law abiding approach was a call for criminal charges against NSA officials or his colleagues in Congress who repeatedly authorized the illegal mass surveillance programs he claims he would end as president. Programs that we would still know nothing about without Edward Snowden’s “illegal” actions, which Bernie thinks he should face jail time for.
Where is Bernie’s call for criminal sanctions against the web companies that betrayed their users’ trust, violated their own privacy policies, and enabled the most sweeping violation of the Fourth Amendment in history?
Where is his apology to the rest of the world for the United States’ decades of human rights abuses, economic espionage, and illegal torture programs?
I’ve learned over the years to no longer be shocked by politicians’ ability to speak out of both sides of their mouths, but I can’t help feeling that this quote from Sanders underscores a huge flaw in his thinking and the thinking of his supporters.
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