By Francis Folz | United States
Does anyone remember 2013? To be fair, it was a long time ago. Barack Obama was president and Hillary Clinton was relevant. However, the former real estate mogul tweeted in the wake of Edward Snowden’s NSA revelations, “All I can say is that if I were President, Snowden would have already been returned to the U.S. (by [our] fastest jet) and with an apology!” I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but Donald Trump’s been president for over 500 days, and nothing’s changed for Snowden. What changed for Trump?
Trump’s Snowden Flip
I don’t think anyone can say for sure, but Trump’s shift in perspective of the NSA whistleblower happened somewhere between Summer 2013 and Spring of the next year. In April of 2014, Mr. Trump tweeted disdain for Mr. Snowden saying, “[He] is a spy who has caused great damage to the U.S. A spy in the old days, when our country was respected and strong, would be executed”.
Talk about a 180. To date, Mr. Trump hasn’t specified how Mr. Snowden’s leaked information about the NSA has caused “great damage” to our nation. It’s also important to note that a spy has to possess an allegiance to another country. Mr. Snowden has only held an allegiance to the U.S. and the American public. This makes him a courageous champion of human rights and civil liberties, not a spy.
There is yet another level of irony in this situation. President Trump has a record of contradicting himself in many ways. While Mr. Trump was a presidential candidate, he promised to drain the swamp, condemned our nation’s failed neocon foreign policy agenda, and even expressed love for Wikileaks at one of his rallies.
However, since his election, Mr. Trump has flipped on those positions at times. For example, despite President Trump stating the Iraq War was a failure, he has embraced further conflict in the Middle East by bombing Syria and aiding Al-Qaeda forces in the area.
In addition, he has partnered with the Saudis, despite calling them an evil empire in the past, to commit human rights violations in Yemen.
A Cabinet of Neocons
Mr. Trump has appointed deep-state neocons John Bolton, Gina Haspel, Jeff Sessions, and Mike Pompeo to various positions within his office. Pompeo has called Wikileaks a “hostile intelligence service” and has called Mr. Assange a coward. Sessions has stated that Mr. Assange’s arrest is a “priority” for the Trump administration. Both Pompeo and Sessions have expressed disdain for Snowden. It would seem like these men and their rhetoric directly contradict the president. However, since Trump’s inauguration, he no longer shows support for Wikileaks.
Considering how President Trump has altered many of his former perspectives, it should be no surprise that the President reauthorized an even more watered-down version of the FISA Amendments. Those same laws may have been used to spy on his own campaign. Prior to Trump reauthorizing the FISA Amendments, the president had tweeted displeasure with the programs Snowden revealed back in 2013, placing himself on similar ground with the NSA whistleblower before bowing to the Swamp.
Edward Snowden’s Fate
Although nobody can say for sure what Snowden’s fate will be during this administration, the Russian government has insisted Mr. Snowden’s future is self-determined. This contradicts a statement from Donald Trump on the campaign trail which he stated if he was president, the Russian government would hand over Edward Snowden. But for now, Russia’s foreign minister has stated that Mr. Snowden is the master of his fate and that it is unlikely his name will come up at the Helsinki Summit.
President Trump has made headlines for using his presidential power to pardon individuals, many of whom having committed nonviolent offenses. It is time for the president to heed his words of yesteryear, pardon Edward Snowden, and bring the human rights defender home to safety, despite the objections of the neocons in his administration.
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