WASHINGTON — The Editorial Board of The New York Times wants President Obama to grant clemency to Edward Snowden. The paper called Mr. Snowden a “Whistle-Blower,” but in fact, he’s a criminal. Granting him clemency is the last thing the president should do.
First off, it’s impossible to “blow the whistle” on something that’s completely legal. Had Mr. Snowden revealed an illegal NSA operation, he would be an actual American hero. But the National Security Agency is within its rights to collect metadata on phone records. A federal judge recently asserted that these activities are legal. And the U.S. Supreme Court has previously held that collecting these type of data is not an unlawful search.
However, Mr. Snowden took an oath to the Constitution that he would not reveal classified information. A oath he willingly broke when he leaked this information to the press.
Mr. Snowden — and The New York Times — simply do not agree with the law. They believe that collecting metadata is an intrusion on privacy. But just because they disagree with the law does not mean it’s okay to leak classified activities. These activities are designed to protect national security. And I’m not even going to get into the weeds of how collecting metadata is far, far removed from anything like actually listening to conservations. Those claims are absurd.
Reasonable people can disagree on whether these activities are necessary. But breaking the law is still breaking the law, even when it’s done for good reasons.
The State Department was right to revoke Mr. Snowden’s passport. If he wants to be a hero, he should turn himself in, and make his case in court. But he won’t do the honorable thing. After all, he’s a criminal.