Alex Constantine - December 20, 2013
Photo: Former DCI R. James Woolsey
A very tentative suggestion of amnesty on a CBS program leads to a threat.
December 19, 2013
After all the virtual public flogging National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden has received, in the past week a few voices have suggested cutting him some slack.
At a Tuesday closed-door meeting with tech leaders, one unnamed participant suggested to Obama that Snowden be pardoned; Obama said he couldn't do that. During a 60 Minutes report on the leaks that aired Sunday, though, even an NSA official suggested it might be worth discussing amnesty—if and only if he returns the leaked documents securely, almost surely an impossibility at this point. (CBS news has been busy defending itself against accusations that Sunday's show was a "puff piece.")
Even that tiny, tentative olive branch seems to have crossed a line for security hawks. NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander dismissed the idea, comparing Snowden to "a hostage taker taking 50 people hostage, shooting 10, and then say[ing], 'You give me full amnesty and I'll let the other 40 go.'"
Former CIA director James Woolsey responded to the suggestion of amnesty even more strongly, saying in a Fox News interview that Snowden should be hanged.
"I think giving him amnesty is idiotic,” said Woolsey, who ran the CIA from 1993 to 1995. “He should be prosecuted for treason. If convicted by a jury of his peers, he should be hanged by his neck until he is dead."
The tough talk on Snowden came the day after a federal judge found the NSA's broad phone surveillance program is likely unconstitutional. US District Judge Richard Leon is the first federal judge to consider the program who does not sit on the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.