Edward Snowden and Executive Clemency

Gerard Magliocca

Gerard N. Magliocca is the Samuel R. Rosen Professor at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law. Professor Magliocca is the author of three books and over twenty articles on constitutional law and intellectual property. He received his undergraduate degree from Stanford, his law degree from Yale, and joined the faculty after two years as an attorney at Covington and Burling and one year as a law clerk for Judge Guido Calabresi on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Professor Magliocca has received the Best New Professor Award and the Black Cane (Most Outstanding Professor) from the student body, and in 2008 held the Fulbright-Dow Distinguished Research Chair of the Roosevelt Study Center in Middelburg, The Netherlands. He was elected to the American Law Institute (ALI) in 2013.

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8 Responses

  1. RONNY says:

    Clemency, mmm, I hope he does, though don’t hold your breath, unless it’s an election promise, or great public pressure is brought to bear it may take a while. It took the Catholics 300 hundred odd years to do the same for Galileo. But, there is always that surprising moment when common sense takes hold, even in government.

  2. LARRY GEORGE says:

    I agree that Snowden will eventually be honored then pardoned. A new generation of public opinion will probably lead the way.Recalcitrant defiers of the established order seldom get good PR; and Snowden challenged not only the security apparatus, but also broke his CONTRACTUAL covenant with NASA. He took the law into both of his hands, so his period of obloquy will be doubly long compared with similar martyrs.

  3. Brett Bellmore says:

    It will take a serious change in our government for Snowden to be pardoned and honored by it. Maybe on the scale of a revolution. Until then, the best he can hope for is that the data he hasn’t yet released is damaging enough that they won’t consider it’s release an acceptable price for killing him.

    He will be publicly popular long before the government will turn around on him.

  4. Shag from Brookline says:

    Brett as an avowed anarcho-libertarian can’t resist his otherwise thoughtful observation on Snowden by referring to “revolution” and a possible government “hit” on Snowden. A “hit” on Snowden would only make him more of a hero not only domestically but internationally. And any “hit” might trigger the release by others of more “dangerous” data. So it may be in our national interest to keep Snowden alive.

    My concern is that, assuming Snowden’s purity of motive, over time he may become a “celebrity” and lose that purity. By his self-imposed becoming a man without a country, he faces a future of dilemmas. Compare this to the Daniel Ellsberg whistleblower model. Ellsberg faced the music, relying on the judicial system and public opinion over time. Yet it hasn’t been that comfortable for Ellsberg, who in my view has avoided “celebrity” status. Over time and much thought the world may be thankful to Snowden. In the meantime, here in America political dysfunction may long keep Snowden as a man without a country. My hope is that whatever the outcome Snowden maintains purity of motive, assuming that’s what led to his decision.

  5. Joe says:

    I realize Ellsberg supports Snowden’s flight, but believe his model should be our guide here.

    Did Snowden, like Ellsberg, try first to get his material sent thru congressional channels? The business about “hits” to me is conspiracy theory. Anyway, I don’t think Snowden alone has the material. To the degree he seriously fears that sort of thing, wouldn’t he have given it to other people “just in case”? Glenn Greenwald, e.g., was involved in the leaking.

    Snowden going to China and Russia turned me off. Whistleblowers should stand by, not go to China and Russia. I also worry about various low level people, especially without some degree of threat of prosecution (e.g., just fleeing to safe countries), having so much power over classified information. If we fear the government here, which is checked in various ways, why trust Snowden?

    Anyway, I would not be surprised if some pardon or commutation or agreement with Russia is worked out. It even might happen at the end of the Obama presidency. Something is likely to happen there in that respect, though if someone like Clinton is next in line, he might feel more restrained.

  6. tom digenti says:

    IMO I do not think he will receive clemency as long as the government deems it necessary to do basically anything in order to prevail in the ‘war on terrorism'; prevailing in this way seems to override any other possible conflicting argument such as privacy, the constitution, and so forth. The irony here, which I wont dwell on, is that terrorism, a tricky word, has existed since the dawn of mankind, so I’ve heard, and it stems from a people being dissatisfied, dismissed, oppressed, not heard and/or under hardship of some kind, so I’ve heard. Excessive and intrusive surveillance exacerbates these conditions. Trust, concern, allowing free opinions,respect for differences, privacy and taking care of people’s basic needs erodes these conditions.

  7. Brett Bellmore says:

    Ellsberg could rely on the legal system, because the legal system wasn’t yet complicit in the abuse. Snowden could not, because it IS complicit. Ditto for Congress.

    We’re rapidly transforming into a police state because those in government find it useful that we do. (Perhaps because they’re particularly vulnerable to it.) Going to them to stop it would be like complaining to the Don that the Mafia are in town. The appropriate level to appeal to for Snowden was the level he did appeal to: The public.

  8. Jimbino says:

    He will be granted clemency once he wins the Nobel Peace Prize, a la known terrorists Begin, Sadat and Mandela. He is a hero to me, as was Ellsberg in his time.

    It is abundantly clear that our freedom depends in great part on whistleblowers, since voting is so useless and burdensome that smart folks don’t vote.