White House Says No Thanks to Snowden Pardon Petition

It’s been more than two years since Edward Snowden became a name as familiar to the millions of people who have no idea what the NSA actually does it is to the power players in Washington. In that time support for Snowden has waxed and waned, but the position of the White House on Snowden’s actions has never changed.

On Tuesday, White House officials finally responded publicly to a long-running petition to pardon Snowden for his theft of classified documents from the NSA. The answer was an unequivocal “No”, and the administration’s homeland security and counterterrorism advisor said Snowden’s actions have threatened the security of the United States. The White House’s response said that while there is a legitimate need for intelligence reform, Snowden went about it the wrong way.

“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,” Lisa Monaco, homeland security and counterterrorism adviser to President Obama, wrote in a response to the petition. 

“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.”

Snowden, a former NSA and CIA contractor, has been living in Russia for much of the time since his identity as the man behind the NSA stories became public in the summer of 2013. His passport has been canceled by the United States government and he has been charged with espionage. The petition to pardon him has nearly 170,000 signatures and calls Snowden a national hero for exposing NSA programs and tactics.

“Edward Snowden is a national hero and should be immediately issued a a full, free, and absolute pardon for any crimes he has committed or may have committed related to blowing the whistle on secret NSA surveillance programs,” the petition says.

Suggested articles


  • Brian on

    The White House should be reminded that a few centuries ago if the Brits had got their hands on the founding fathers.... Heroes or traitors it all depends on your point of view (and if you are the winning side!). A full pardon for Snowden and an apology might not go amiss! After all aren't we supposed to encourage whistle blowing of wrong doing by governments? Lets not have double standards.
  • Todd on

    @Brian, a small oversimplifcation. He signed a piece of paper saying he would protect that information to which he was granted access. It's not as if he used he appropriate channels afforded to him. Could he have influenced change using the proper channels, probably not. The problem is that releasing classified information is not a luxury that the legally binding contract he signed affords. A full pardon would be absurd. Tons of people have seen things that they would love to make public. NDAs exist for a reason. Doesn't matter which side you are on and point of view has little bearing in a court of law.
  • Old Bull Lee on

    He did use the proper channels, bringing his concerns to many of his superiors, and it got him (and us) nowhere. But yeah, NDAs > moral values.
  • Phreed on

    @Todd Even if that truth being hidden undermined and decieved the public? No one here is saying he didn't break a legal contract. What Snowden did was risk his freedom in exchange for freedom for all. I think that is the definition of a hero.
  • Micheal on

    @Todd, Yes this can not be said enough!
  • Todd on

    @OldBullLee, @Phreed. I think what he did was in some ways awesome. He affected change on a large scale that benefited a large portion of the global population. He also compromised some intelligence gathering efforts. If you have any belief or trust in "the system" those intelligence gathering efforts matter. People made a couple strawman type arguments here. I am speaking specifically to the idea that his actions could be pardoned. Morals are important to me. Legally binding agreements that could affect my freedom are also very important to me. For the record, I think it can be easily argued that his is a hero and wouldn't contest that opinion. I am most certain that almost nothing will make his willfull actions that breached his signed contract any less illegal.

Subscribe to our newsletter, Threatpost Today!

Get the latest breaking news delivered daily to your inbox.