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White House, lawmakers: no clemency for Snowden

By Kimberly Dozier

Associated Press


WASHINGTON >> The White House and the leaders of the congressional intelligence committees are rejecting former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden's plea for clemency.

"Mr. Snowden violated U.S. law," White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer said Sunday about the former systems-analyst-turned-fugitive who has temporary asylum in Russia.

"He should return to the U.S. and face justice," Pfeiffer said when pressed about whether clemency was being discussed.

Snowden made the plea in a letter given to a German politician and released Friday. In his one-page typed letter, he asks for clemency for charges over allegedly leaking classified information about the NSA to the news media. "''Speaking the truth is not a crime," Snowden wrote.

Snowden's revelations, among them allegations that the U.S. has eavesdropped on allies including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, have led to calls by allies to cease such spying and moves by Congress to overhaul U.S. surveillance laws and curb the agency's powers.

Bu the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee said if Snowden had been a true whistle-blower, he could have reported his concerns to her committee privately.

"That didn't happen, and now he's done this enormous disservice to our country," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. "I think the answer is no clemency."

The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Mike Rogers, called clemency for Snowden a "terrible idea."

"He needs to come back and own up," said Rogers, R-Mich. "If he believes there's vulnerabilities in the systems he'd like to disclose, you don't do it by committing a crime that actually puts soldiers' lives at risk in places like Afghanistan."

Rogers contended that Snowden's revelations had caused three terrorist organizations to change how they communicate.

Both lawmakers addressed word that President Barack Obama did not realize Merkel's personal phone was being tapped.

Rogers implied that he didn't believe the president, or European leaders who claimed they were shocked by Snowden's allegations.

"I think there's going to be some best actor awards coming out of the White House this year and best supporting actor awards coming out of the European Union," he said "Some notion that ... some people just didn't have an understanding about how we collect information to protect the United States to me is wrong."

Feinstein said she didn't know what the president knew, but said she intended to conduct a review of all intelligence programs to see if they were going too far.

"Where allies are close, tapping private phones of theirs ... has much more political liability than probably intelligence viability," she said.

Feinstein and Rogers been criticized for defending the NSA. Feinstein's committee produced a bill last week that she says increases congressional oversight and limits some NSA powers under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Privacy advocates say the measure codifies the agency's rights to scoop up millions of American's telephone records.

Former NSA and CIA director Mike Hayden said it was possible Obama did not know about the alleged Merkel phone tapping.

But he said it was "impossible" that Obama's top staffers were unaware. "The fact that they didn't rush in to tell the president this was going on points out what I think is a fundamental fact: This wasn't exceptional. This is what we were expected to do."

Hayden's defense of the president comes days after he reportedly criticized the White House's handling of NSA revelations, when a former Democratic political operative tweeted snatches of Hayden's phone conversation, overheard on an Amtrak train.

Pfeiffer appeared on ABC's "This Week," while Rogers, Feinstein and Hayden were interviewed on CBS' "Face the Nation."

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loquaciousone wrote:
I'm guessing that Snowden is losing his naivete and now realizes that the country he fled to makes the US look like angels.
on November 4,2013 | 06:11AM
pcman wrote:
Snowden has seriously damaged US diplomacy by causing leaders of allies to question the motives of the US regardless of the fact that they do the same to the US, that is spy on American leaders to determine their plans and intentions of foreign and international concerns. Snowden has also caused terrorist organizations and unfriendly countries to change their methods of communications which were previously monitored for US safety and security. Snowden has caused NSA to revise many security, administrative, user and management procedures requiring massive emergency reprogramming, training and oversight costing millions of manhours and dollars involving all personnel of NSA and the US intelligence community. Snowden will never be able to compensate the US government for the costs he incurred.
on November 4,2013 | 06:27AM
DABLACK wrote:
The cost of his reporting is small compared to the millions of dollars this country is giving foreign countries.
on November 4,2013 | 07:23AM
pcman wrote:
IRT DABLACK on cost. Actually US gives out billions to foreign countries. Spying on leaders give us an indication whether or not we should or should not give to any country. If a foreign leader asks the US for money for social programs but he tells his deputies or ministers that the money is for nuclear weapons, we may not want to give that country the money. If a foreign leader tells his country that money he gets from the US will be used for food and medicine, but he diverts the money to buy weapons to kill political opponents, we might not want to give the money. Basically, a lot of things foreign leaders say behind our backs may very well formulate our policy for foreign aid.
on November 4,2013 | 11:08AM
Tipops wrote:
No clemency for white house, legislators!
on November 4,2013 | 04:00PM
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