Suppose the government of the United States gets its hands on Edward Snowden and brings him to trial. Have you wondered what happens then?

I've predicted that no jury of Snowden's peers will convict him, regardless of how clear it is that he broke laws. I would be highly disappointed in my fellow citizens if they sided with the perpetrator (the government) over the victims (themselves) and decided to screw the whistleblower (Snowden) who is on their side. But let's consider the alternative.

If Snowden gets convicted, many of the citizens of the United States will go all Egyptian and take to the streets. It was bad enough that the government was collecting all of our private communications. But convicting the guy who blew the whistle? That's throwing a match on the gasoline. So I believe the government doesn't want to see him convicted, or at least the top people don't. It's too risky to the system.

On the other hand, the government has an absolute legal obligation to pursue criminal charges against Snowden. Society doesn't work if people think they can break laws whenever they have good reasons.

We also know there is big money involved in domestic surveillance. And while I'm late to the party on this, all evidence suggests that the government is controlled by corporate interests. So one presumes the government needs to punish the whistleblower to satisfy its corporate overlords and to keep the domestic surveillance cash cow mooing.

This puts the government in the awkward position of trying to avoid some sort of accidental competence that ends up convicting a martyr and sparking a popular uprising. They need to put Snowden on trial to satisfy their corporate sponsors. But they need to fail in getting a conviction to satisfy the public.

I think there is a 100% chance that some dark department of the government, along with its foreign proxies, is planning an "accident" for Snowden before he reaches the United States. Putin would probably do it in return for secret concessions. He might need some of his own spies freed, for example. In the end, I don't think the U.S. government will authorize a hit on Snowden because it would be too obvious. But you know they discussed it. That much seems certain.

If I were President Obama, I would start seeding the media with the idea of a trial and conviction followed by a presidential pardon. You'd want to float that idea and see what the public thought of it. A conviction and a pardon are as close as you can get to a "tie" in this situation, and that would be the best case scenario for the public. We want to know that lawbreakers are dealt with, but we also appreciate justice.

If Snowden gets a lot of attention during a trial, and somehow gains his freedom at the end, I wouldn't be surprised to see him run for President in a few years. This is the sort of situation that gives a person instant legitimacy. If Snowden ran on a platform of exposing corporate control over the government and preserving individual privacy he'd be a credible player on day one.

Things will get interesting when Snowden reaches our shores, and I'm fairly sure that will happen.

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Jul 3, 2013
Your assumption that Snowden is a whistleblower is not necessarily accurate. A whistleblower is someone who notifies the appropriate authorities of potential wrongdoing while protecting the security of confidential data. Snowden copied files, fled the country, and turned it over to the foreign press. There's a right way and a wrong way to do the right thing, and there's no evidence that he ever attempted the right way. Even going up against the NSA, there are several organizations he could have alerted, including any member of Congress, that would have protected him from retaliation. Yes, he still should have copied the files and perhaps held a press conference, but leaking classified data is not the same thing as blowing the whistle. We'll never know what would have happened because he didn't even TRY to do it the right way.

The black-helicopter conspiracy theory folks (some of whom are present) love to get all spun up about how bad the government is and how we need to overthrow the system. But how can you say that if you've never once tried to let the system work?
Jul 3, 2013
There won't be a trial. He will mysteriously die shortly after being taken into custody. (Like Vince Foster.)
Jul 3, 2013
remember occupy wall street? no? it was this American "Arab Spring" grass roots movement that took the country by storm for... several minutes. once.

The sad truth is that the government has no reason to fear the people over this or any other abuse. Whatever we once were, we are pure consumers now. All they have to do is stifle the media, then buy us off with tax breaks or some other carrot to balance out whatever residual anger we hang on to until our attention span expires.

Edward Snowden better have a much more committed and powerful ally than the American people or he doesn't stand a chance.
Jul 3, 2013
The NSA has had access to EVERYTHING for a few years now and they're addicted to it. They won't give it up without a fight.

Since Snowden is not dead yet, he must have an ace in the hole. Or a bunch of them.

That's why the government will pull out all the stops to distract Americans as Snowden releases follow-on bombshells. It might go like this: Snowden implicates A and Lindsey Lohan is arrested for drunk driving. Snowden implicates B, Honey Boo Boo comes out as a les bian. Snowden implicates C, NFL owners announce a lockout.

Say Snowden implicates someone in the Executive branch just as nationwide use of weed is OKed. Cash for Clunkers is revived. Minimum wage is doubled, Medicare for everybody, income tax abolished, age of consent is lowered, free cable, beer stamps, etc, etc. The government has been withholding a lot of stuff just for this day. Don't underestimate them.

Jul 3, 2013
I think modern crony capitalism is a lot more give-and-take between the government and corporations, and not so much the "corporate overlords" that you suggest here.

The rest I think is spot on, Snowden broke treason laws in order to do the right thing, and in order to uphold law and order we have to simultaneously make a show of punishing him while also celebrating him for being a whistleblower. A conviction followed by a pardon would fit the bill just fine.
+35 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 3, 2013
I love you Scott but I hope you're being tongue-in-cheek here or else I gotta say you are pretty naive. A Snowden conviction will be like that of Bradley Manning and Assange if they can get a hold of him, behind closed doors and with evidence that is not provided to anyone. American's won't care because the media will tell them it was necessary to 'sport the troops' and none of those still living were around during the last period that the Constitution was still obviously necessary. This ignorance of the point of liberty will eventually be painful, I promise you that.

Much more interesting will be Europe's reaction to the whole thing. If you haven't been following the coverage by Der Spiegel, I suggest you do. German's understand the whole fascist, totalitarian thing better than the rest of us and they are understandably pissed off about the NSA listening in on them. Washington has been able to bribe and bully European countries individually into supporting them for a long time but the Big Brother vibe coming out of the US these days has gotten pretty painful and I doubt it will be swept under the rug. If the EU can cooperate and form some defensive legislation, US corporations that cooperate with the spying may suffer financially. That is the language Washington understands.
Jul 3, 2013
I dunno how much people really DO care; if you notice there's already been a character assassination thing going on in US media.

And I'm STILL skeptical they'd even have him tried by a jury of his peers. Seems more likely they'd figure out a loophole to have him tried by military tribunal behind closed doors, after leaving him to rot in a prison cell long enough while waiting so that the public moves on.
Jul 3, 2013
Not going to happen. The gub'mint already had a plan to assassinate Occupy leaders "if necessary". They've droned a handful of citizens already. No outcry over that. The US is too old, fat and comfy to take to the streets or even act like an ethical citizen. We'll do what our masters dupe into doing. 'Merica!
Jul 3, 2013

[I think you vastly overestimate how much people care about this.]

Between this and Scotts recent post on polygamy I sense that he's failing to understand that there are a lot of folks out there who dont think the way he thinks. Why else would he think religion can be dismissed in a discussion about polygamy? Or that a Snowden conviction would result in more unrest than the government can handle?
+8 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 3, 2013
"If Snowden gets convicted, many of the citizens of the United States will go all Egyptian and take to the streets."

No, they will do what they did on 9/11 and the days after: Watch TV at home.

And, as soon as they can reasonably fantasize about mainly foreigners being targeted, they will hunger for the traitors conviction.

Your government has successfully brainwashed your population that what it does is good and if it does something it must be good because they are doing it.

Much like a child dying of illness must be good because it has been "god's will" and because got wanted it (or did nothing to prevent it) it MUST have been a good idea, otherwise said god wouldn't have killed it.
+21 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 3, 2013
Isn't it simpler for them to just leave him in some other country? That way it appears that they tried to prosecute him, but they didn't actually have to do anything.
+18 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 3, 2013
"the government has an absolute legal obligation to pursue criminal charges against Snowden. Society doesn't work if people think they can break laws whenever they have good reasons."

{cough!}WALL STREET!!!{cough!}

otherwise you're spot on!
+31 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 3, 2013
I think you vastly overestimate how much people care about this.
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