Manning verdict & Snowden's future

SUBHEAD:  Edward Snowden's father, Lonnie, said: "I have absolutely no faith in the attorney general of the United States."

By Eyder Peralta on 30 January 2013 for NPR News -

Image above: Photo courtesy of Bradley Manning Support Network. From (

In the wake of of aiding the enemy, the natural question is, what does this say about Edward Snowden's future?

is, of course, the Army private responsible for the biggest leak of classified information in U.S. history. is responsible for revealing some of the most secretive and sensitive intelligence programs inside the National Security Agency.

The U.S. government charged Manning with aiding the enemy. , that was an unprecedented charge that had the potential of casting a long shadow over future leak cases.

Mary-Rose Papandrea, a professor of law at Boston College, is in the middle of writing an academic paper that explores the difference between leakers and traitors.

Papandrea said an aiding-the-enemy charge essentially amounts to treason; the fact that Col. Denise Lind, the military judge presiding over the Manning case, found him not guilty of the charge bodes well for Snowden and whoever may come next.

"It is good news for people who have the intent to inform the public that they will be protected," Papandrea said. "What I think the court did — without having seen any explicit rationale here — is to make a distinction between true aiding the enemy — intent to aid the enemy, knowledge that information will be read by the enemy and an intent to have that information read by the enemy — versus individuals who disclose information without authorization but with the intent to disclose them to the public at large."

During the trial, the U.S. government argued that when Manning released information to WikiLeaks — instead of traditional news outlets — it was because he wanted the data to be available in an indiscriminate manner. As an intelligence analyst, the government argued, he should have known that the information was going to end up in the hands of al-Qaida.

Many civil libertarians worried about the kind of precedent the case would set for investigative journalism in the United States. In essence, they said, this meant anyone could be charged with aiding the enemy for handing information to a website or news outlet because al-Qaida was free to visit that website.

What's more, aiding the enemy is one of only three crimes in the Uniform Code of Military Justice that theoretically applies to everyone.

Eugene Fidell, a lecturer at Yale Law School and an expert on military law, said the Manning verdict will likely revive talk about whether you can aide the enemy by releasing information to a news organization. One thing that seems clear, he says, is that Snowden will not be tried on that most-serious charge.

"On paper, the statute applies to any person. But in fact the Supreme Court would not tolerate a court martial of a civilian for aiding the enemy," Fidell said. "I don't think Mr. Snowden has to worry about being court martialed."

Papandrea agrees, but she says that while Manning beat the most serious charge against him, he could still face decades in prison for his other crimes, including espionage and theft.

"It's not like Bradley Manning is getting off scot-free. All it means is that he was not found guilty of what essentially amounts to treason," Papandrea says. "So as far as the message for Snowden, he still would face potential Espionage Act charges and other lesser charges."

In fact, the U.S. government has already charged the former NSA contractor with .

Papandrea argues, however, there are stark differences between Manning and Snowden.

"I don't think the espionage charges [against Manning] were that controversial," she said. "I think some people thought that Bradley Manning may have been engaged in whistle-blowing.

But I think the Snowden disclosures raise much bigger questions about the role of leakers in our society. You have Congress right now considering and coming close to passing legislation that would stop the program that Snowden revealed.

Clearly, his disclosures have had a big impact on the public debate. They are meaningful; they are important."

Manning, on the other hand, disclosed some 700,000 classified documents that "did not have significant impact on public discourse."

That was the argument, Snowden's father Lonnie and his attorney, Bruce Fein, made on CNN this afternoon. Snowden, Fein said, should be treated as a whistle-blower not a spy.

"He has sparked a conversation that Mr. Obama said was urgent," said Fein.

In Manning's case, judge Lind found the 25-year-old was not a traitor, but in six different instances, she rejected the defense's argument that Manning was a whistle-blower intent on sparking a debate about war and diplomacy.

If Lind sticks to maximum sentences, Manning could be in prison for decades.

Lonnie Snowden, who had called for his son to come back to the United States and face justice, had a different message for his son today: Stay safe, in Russia, he told him on CNN.

He added: "I have absolutely no faith in the attorney general of the United States."

Holden indicates US Government attitude

SUBHEAD: A.G. Holden says U.S. will not seek death penalty or torture Snowden if he returns. What a pathetic thing for him to have to say.

Mariano Castillo on 27 July 2013 for CNN News -

Image above: Eric Snowden as a teen in an online post. Photo courtesy — “The Voice of Generation Y”From (
The U.S. Justice Department will not seek the death penalty for U.S. intelligence leaker Edward Snowden, Attorney General Eric Holder wrote to Russian authorities in a letter dated July 23.

In the letter, Holder says Snowden's arguments for temporary asylum in Russia are without merit.

Snowden is seeking asylum because he claims he will be tortured and face the death penalty if returned to the United States.

But the death penalty is not an option given the current charges against Snowden, and even if additional charges are filed, the United States would still not seek capital punishment, Holder wrote.

Once back in the United States, Snowden would not be tortured and would face a civilian trial with a lawyer appointed to him, the attorney general wrote.

"We believe that these assurances eliminate these asserted grounds for Mr. Snowden's claim that he should be treated as a refugee or granted asylum," Holder wrote.

He also said it is untrue that Snowden cannot travel because his U.S. passport was revoked. Snowden is still a U.S. citizen and is eligible for a limited-validity passport that would authorize a direct return to the United States.

"The United States is willing to immediately issue such a passport to Mr. Snowden," Holder wrote.

Father asks Obama to rein in Holder
In a letter released Friday, Snowden's father called on President Barack Obama to order Holder to dismiss the criminal complaint filed against his son.

Lon Snowden defended his son's actions, comparing them to acts of civil disobedience.

"We are also appalled at your administration's scorn for due process, the rule of law, fairness and the presumption of innocence as regards Edward," the letter said.

Earlier in the day, Lon Snowden said on NBC's "Today" that Snowden did the right thing by leaking U.S. intelligence and helping Americans see the truth.

"I think my son, when he takes his final breath, whether it's today or 100 years from now, (will) be comfortable with what he did," he said. "He did what he knew was right. He shared the truth with the American people. What we choose to do with it is up to us as a people."

Lon Snowden expressed his disappointment with the recent House vote that continued funding for the spy program that Edward Snowden exposed.

There is a need for a strong intelligence community, Lon Snowden said, but many who voted for continued funding for the program are really looking out for the special interests that will benefit.

"It's all about the money," he said.

The father said he has not been in direct contact with his son, but there has been indirect contact through intermediaries.

The intermediaries do not include WikiLeaks, Lon Snowden said, but he added that he is thankful to that group for aiding his son.

"I'm thankful for anybody at this point that is providing him with assistance to keep him safe and secure," he said.

U.S., Russian officials continue talks

Meanwhile, the Kremlin said that the Russian security agency FSB is talking to American officials.

"The situation around Snowden is not being discussed at the top level. There's a discussion between heads of FSB and FBI," the Kremlin press office said.

A spokesman for Vladimir Putin said the Russian president "expressed a firm intention to not allow" further damage to U.S. interests, including a pledge by Snowden not to release any more intelligence. "And I have no doubt this is how it will be, no matter how the situation develops," the spokesman said, according to the Russian news agency RIA Novosti.

The many mysteries of Snowden's transit zone

Snowden isn't yet allowed to step outside the Moscow airport where he's been confined for weeks. He is waiting for permission to stay elsewhere in Russia while his request for temporary asylum is considered.

He has been searching for a place to settle after the United States charged him with espionage.

The former National Security Agency contractor, who admitted last month to revealing sweeping U.S. electronic surveillance programs to the news media, left Hong Kong for Moscow on June 23.

Snowden may remain stuck in the transit area for weeks and maybe months, the head of Russia's migration service, Vladimir Volokh, told the Russian news agency Interfax. The maximum length of time Snowden can spend at the airport is six months, he said.

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