WASHINGTON -- Despite a petition 167,000 strong, the White House is, unsurprisingly, in no hurry to welcome NSA contractor-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden back to the United States.
Finally responding on Tuesday to a 2013 petition, the Obama administration said it would not pardon the former government contractor who revealed sweeping government surveillance on millions of Americans. The administration also called Snowden a bit of a coward for deciding to hide out in Russia.
“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,” the White House response reads. “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.”
The response is contrary to recent remarks by former Attorney General Eric Holder, who suggested in earlier this month that there might be a way for Snowden to cut a deal and return to the U.S. Holder additionally said that if Snowden had such a problem with the NSA’s sweeping data collections, he should’ve taken it up with Congress, not leaked the information to a reporter.
The White House, similarly, says Snowden should have taken a different course of action if he was so disturbed by the NSA’s programs. But now, it wants him to come back and face the consequences of his actions.
Of course, Pennsylvania Ave. also took some time to pat itself on the back for embracing national security reforms sparked by Snowden’s revelations.
"Since taking office, President Obama has worked with Congress to secure appropriate reforms that balance the protection of civil liberties with the ability of national security professionals to secure information vital to keep Americans safe,” Lisa Monaco, one of the president’s national security advisors, said in the response.
After a protracted battle in Congress, the programs that Snowden revealed shut down temporarily. In June, lawmakers voted to overhaul the surveillance strategies, allowing more protections for personal information and limiting the amount of data the government could collect on American citizens.
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