The New York Times recommended in an editorial today that the government accord Edward Snowden clemency or a lenient plea bargain for his whistleblowing revelations of domestic spying and potentially criminal conduct by the National Security Agency.  Snowden was an NSA contractor who stole highly classified documents and then revealed the abusive nature of NSA collection of domestic personal data through Internet and telephone call monitoring.  The Times stated, “[c]onsidering the enormous value of the information he has revealed and the abuses he has exposed, Mr. Snowden deserves better than a life of permanent exile, fear and flight.”

 The Times provided a summary of the extraordinary revelations of NSA misconduct including:

 –  The NSA broke federal privacy laws or exceeded its authority thousands of times per year according to the agency’s own internal auditor.

 –  The agency broke into the communications links of major data centers around the world allowing it to spy on hundreds of millions of user accounts.

 –  The NSA systematically undermined the basic encryption systems of the Internet, making it impossible to know if sensitive banking or medical data is truly private.

 –  Snowden reveled that James Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, lied to Congress in March when he testified that the NSA was not collecting data on millions of Americans.  

 –  The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court rebuked the NSA for repeatedly providing misleading information about its surveillance practices.

 –  A federal district judge ruled earlier this month that the phone-records collection program probably violates the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution and called the program “almost Orwellian.”

 Of course, The Times is talking into the wind when it recommends that the Obama Administration offer Snowden clemency.  The Obama Administration has established itself as a “take no prisoners” defender of classified material and has maintained the national security apparatus it inherited from the Bush Administration.  It would be fanciful to expect the Obama Administration to dismantle the national security state even when Snowden’s revelations demonstrate that this very government has turned on its own people and violated rights enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.