5 Reasons Snowden Will Never Receive Amnesty

As NSA secrets leaked by Edward Snowden continue to emerge in the press on a regular basis, there have begun to be murmurs from the NSA of offering Snowden amnesty in order to receive his cooperation. Rick Leggett, the man charged with heading the NSA’s special Snowden task force, acknowledged that it would be “worth having a conversation” with Snowden.

“I would need assurances that the remainder of the data would be secured, and my bar for those assurances would be very high,” Leggett elaborated. While it’s nice to imagine a world where the United States sees the righteousness in whistleblowing and works to improve its programs rather than scapegoating Snowden, these rumors of amnesty won’t happen for several reasons:

1. Snowden Already Shared the Information

At this point, it’s not as simple as making Snowden promise to stop releasing more documents. Though Snowden says he’s already handed over all of the information he took while working for the NSA to journalists, many believe he still has over one million more classified documents in his possession that have yet to be shared.

Either way, the 200,000 documents that the media is and will continue to slowly release have the potential to do a lot of damage on their own. Snowden’s silence moving forward won’t prevent the media from working with the information they’ve already received.


2. Even Un-leaked Data May Have Already Been Compromised

While Snowden sought asylum in Hong Kong and Russia, U.S. authorities have difficulty believing that the Chinese and Russian governments didn’t somehow help themselves to the information – with Snowden’s permission or otherwise.

Michael Hayden, the former head of the NSA and CIA, has declared he would “lose all respect for China’s Ministry of State Security and Russia’s FSB if they have not already fully harvested Snowden’s digital data trove.” Hayden’s comment is pretty telling, and an indication that the United States would be sure to get their hands on foreign intelligence if situations were reversed. Evidently, all’s fair in international spy games.

Assuming these countries have accessed the documents, the U.S. must contemplate whether it’s worth trying to keep secrets that are already in the possession of two of its superpower frenemies.


3. Authorities Consider Snowden the Ultimate Enemy

After Snowden was labeled a traitor by many in Congress, with some even calling for Snowden’s death, we’d be kidding ourselves to believe that Snowden would be able to suddenly resume life in America as a private citizen again.

In an upcoming interview with 60 Minutes, NSA head General Keith Alexander goes so far as to compare Snowden to a man who has taken 50 hostages, killed 10, and now wants amnesty in exchange for not killing the other 40. In likening Snowden to a mass murderer, it’s clear that the powers that be consider Snowden too much of an enemy to receive a free pass for his whistleblowing.


4. The Precedent

The U.S. government’s best deterrent in stopping people from taking similar actions in the future is by condemning the likes of Snowden and Chelsea Manning and making their lives as miserable as possible. “What we don’t want is the next person to do the same thing, race off to Hong Kong and to Moscow with another set of data, knowing they can strike the same deal,” said General Alexander.


5. Snowden May Be Too Principled

Although he’s previously expressed that he would return to the United States if he were granted amnesty, it’s doubtful he’d agree to the extensive terms that the government would offer. Snowden had a good idea of what his life would be like after becoming a whistleblower, and he made the decision that the public’s need to know this classified information was worth the consequences. If anything, the fact that he’s not currently dead or in prison already means things are going better than he expected, so why would he drop his principled stance of sharing the details of mass surveillance now?


It may never come to fruition, but the fact that the NSA is even entertaining the notion of giving Snowden amnesty is revealing in itself. Just think of how juicy and alarming the information that Snowden is thought to have not yet leaked must be for the government to negotiate with someone who has already shed light on so many of their secrets.

Photo Credit: Mike Herbst


Jim Ven
Jim Ven1 years ago

thanks for the article.

K H.
Kate H3 years ago

Thank you Manning and Snowden

Jeannet Bertelink
Jeannet B4 years ago

Thank you

Brian Foster
Brian F4 years ago

Of course Snowden will never be back. Snowden spoke the truth, and showed the world the proof, that the NSA is a criminal organization. Embarrassing the NSA, and exposing the truth to the world, is a crime punishable by death. And the corrupt NSA, would do it the second Snowden showed up in the USA. Only a fool would come back to the USA.

Jamie Clemons
Jamie C4 years ago

If Snow den has half a brain he will stay out of this country. Would you trust the NSA not to assassinate you in cold blood if you had embarassed them? They have already proven time and time again they think they are above the law.

Robert H.
Robert Hamm4 years ago

OH give me a BREAK The NSA has already done us more damage than Snowden can. And even with all this info they are supposedly amassing they STILL couldnt stop the Boston bombers. Give me a break. The NSA is NOT keeping us safe.

Snowden has no real reason to come back. he has shown he is not a good little soldier bot ready to do anything his Master orders. THe NSA NEEDS to be compromised and in facrt slowed waayyyyyyyyyyyy down.

Michael H.
Mike H4 years ago

Thank you for posting this

Kit B.
Kit B4 years ago

I would doubt that Snowden would ever feel safe returning to the USA. His exposure of information about NSA would leave him vulnerable to wackos and death threats. I would like to see him have some choices on where he lives. I could say he exposed some much needed truth, but in the wrong way. There are not many choices for those who believe they must expose facts to the public. I think he did what he had to do for his own conscious.

A federal judge has really started a good conversation by finding NSA guilty of interfering with and blocking rights of privacy. We shall see where this goes.

Carlene V.
Carlene V4 years ago

As far as I'm concerned he is a traitor. Let him stay in Russia where he'll find out what it's really like to be watched. He put our country at risk without any forethought. I hope he's never allowed back.

Robynne W.
Robynne W4 years ago

The USA will never grant him amnesty because he told the truth. They don't like it when we actually use our freedom of speech to tell things the government is doing.

Thank you Manning and Snowden!