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Excerpt: "President Obama Indicated on Friday that he won't pardon NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, even as President-elect Donald Trump announced his pick to run the CIA: Kansas congressman Mike Pompeo, who has called for 'the traitor Edward Snowden' to be executed."

President Barack Obama. (photo: Getty Images)
President Barack Obama. (photo: Getty Images)

Obama Refuses to Pardon Edward Snowden. Trump's New CIA Pick Wants Him Dead.

By Alex Emmons and Naomi LaChance, The Intercept

19 November 16


resident Obama indicated on Friday that he won’t pardon NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, even as President-elect Donald Trump announced his pick to run the CIA: Kansas congressman Mike Pompeo, who has called for “the traitor Edward Snowden” to be executed.

Pompeo has supported nearly unfettered NSA surveillance, has blamed Muslim leaders for condoning terror, and is one of the most hyperbolic members of Congress when it comes to describing the Islamic State, which he has called “an existential threat to America” and “the most lethal and powerful terrorist group ever to have existed.”

In an interview with Obama published on Friday, German newspaper Der Spiegel asked: “Are you going to pardon Edward Snowden?” Obama replied: “I can’t pardon somebody who hasn’t gone before a court and presented themselves, so that’s not something that I would comment on at this point.”

But P.S. Ruckman, editor of the Pardon Power blog said Obama is wrong to suggest he couldn’t pardon Snowden if he wanted to. Ruckman noted that Obama has previously only granted pardons and commutations to people who have already been convicted. “I just think what he may have better said is: ‘I prefer that he present himself to a court and then we’ll talk turkey.’ But technically in terms of the Constitution, there are no restrictions at all.”

The operative Supreme Court ruling, from 1886, states that “The power of pardon conferred by the Constitution upon the President is unlimited except in cases of impeachment. It extends to every offence known to the law, and may be exercised at any time after its commission, either before legal proceedings are taken or during their pendency, or after conviction and judgment. The power is not subject to legislative control.”

Obama said that although Snowden “raised some legitimate concerns,” he “did not follow the procedures and practices of our intelligence community.”

Obama also suggested that the debate is between people holding two extremist positions: people who “think we can take a 100-percent absolutist approach to protecting privacy” and “those who think that security is the only thing and don’t care about privacy.”

Very few people actually occupy either extreme. But Pompeo, a three-term congressman and former Army officer, is about as close as it comes to the latter.

In a 2014 letter, Pompeo accused Snowden of “intentional distortion of truth that he and his media enablers have engaged in.” Pompeo supports virtually no legal barriers to having the NSA spy on Americans, and has alarmed civil liberties advocates with many of the positions he has taken while serving on the House Intelligence Committee. Not only has he argued that the NSA should resume its phone records program, he has called on Congress to “pass a law re-establishing collection of all metadata, and combining it with publicly available financial and lifestyle information into a comprehensive, searchable database.”

“What’s needed is a fundamental upgrade to America’s surveillance capabilities,” reads a Wall Street Journal piece Pompeo co-wrote in January.

Pompeo is also a staunch defender of the prison at Guantanamo Bay, calling it an “important national asset,” and repeatedly arguing that closing the facility would endanger Americans. He has also defended CIA torturers, saying that “these men and women are not torturers,” and that “the programs being used were within the law.” He called the exhaustive, 6,000-page Senate torture report “some liberal game being played by the ACLU and Sen. Feinstein.”

Civil liberties groups immediately expressed concern about Pompeo as CIA director. The position requires Senate confirmation.

“Congressman Pompeo’s positions on bulk surveillance and Guantanamo Bay also raise serious civil liberties concerns about privacy and due process,” the ACLU said in a statement. “These positions and others merit serious public scrutiny through a confirmation process. His positions on mass surveillance have been rejected by federal courts and have been the subject of several lawsuits filed by the ACLU.”

Pompeo has also accused Islamic faith leaders of being “potentially complicit” in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. “When the most devastating terrorist attacks on America in the last 20 years come overwhelmingly from people of a single faith, and are performed in the name of that faith, a special obligation falls on those that are the leaders of that faith,” Pompeo said in a speech on the House floor. “Instead of responding, silence has made these Islamic leaders across America potentially complicit in these acts and more importantly still, in those that may well follow.”

Because numerous Islamic leaders had in fact condemned the attack, the Council on American Islamic issued a letter calling his remarks “false and irresponsible,” and urged him to publicly correct them. your social media marketing partner


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+15 # PeacefulGarden 2016-11-19 10:07
I think the title of this article sums up the USA in the year 2016. It leans so damn hard to the right.
+19 # ReconFire 2016-11-19 10:44
I say Pomoeo is dangerous and dumber than a bag of hammers. Also unpatriotic, thanks Trump.
+3 # lorenbliss 2016-11-19 17:52
@Reconfire: every bit as dangerous as Heinrich Himmler. And dou't delude yourself that Himmler -- our species' champion mass murderer to date -- was dumb. A moral imbecile, unquestionably, but also an Evil genius, one of the direct ancestors of the Ultimate Evil that now afflicts us.

And no -- precisely as Trump's appointments are telling us -- there is not a neutron of hyperbole in this comment.
+17 # anarchaos 2016-11-19 11:21
5th paragraph; "The operative Supreme Court ruling, from 1886, states that "The power of pardon conferred by the Constitution upon the President is unlimited except in cases of impeachment." Yet POTUS Gerald Ford pardoned Nixon. Tricky,these politicos. Clearly, the surveillance State (that wants to know all about us) does NOT want us to anything about their nefarious activities - hence, "traitor" Snowden (who, to many of us, is Hero Snowden. Pompeo is mistaken about IS as "the most lethal and powerful terrorist group ever to have existed"! How about the group that wantonly invades sovereign nations that pose no existential threat or harm and spins various lies to justify, what the Nuremburg trials deemed, the chief War Crime(in that the unwarranted aggression contains the whole of the war crimes that follow)?
+4 # lfeuille 2016-11-19 21:08
Nixon wasn't impeached. His resignation put an end to the proceedings.
+13 # anarchaos 2016-11-19 11:49
Pompeo is an apt pick for head of CIA. CIA: extra-legal drug smugglers, professional liars, sneaky assassins, war criminals, wholly corrupt scum. There are, of course, those who work for CIA - secretaries, clerks, record keepers/filers, office staff, visitor guides, etcetera - who are not complicit in 'dirty tricks'. Regular working people, likely unaware of the truly evil scum. Like those CIA, and a few Green Berets, who were shot by a guard at the Syria/Jordon checkpoint while entering Jordon to "train Syrian rebels".
+9 # REDPILLED 2016-11-19 13:51
Yes, the Chaos-Inflictin g Assholes (CIA) are guilty of decades of massive crimes. After the farce of the Bay of Pigs, JFK threatened to break the CIA up into "a thousand pieces", and replaced CIA head Allen Dulles. Two years later, JFK was assassinated in Dallas and Allen Dulles was put on the Commission "investigating" JFK's murder, the Commission that scapegoated "lone gunman" Lee Harvey Oswald, who was conveniently murdered by Jack Ruby two days after the JFK assassination. Dead men don't talk. Read The Devil's Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America's Secret Government by David Talbot.
0 # lorenbliss 2016-11-19 16:56
Quoth anarchos: "Regular working people, likely unaware of the truly evil scum."

Yeah, just like the low-level secretaries and clerks who worked for the Gestapo...
+7 # djnova50 2016-11-19 12:48
The fact that Snowden caused significant embarrassment for the US government, Snowden lives in exile in Russia. What does that say about whatever shred of humanity Barack Obama may have? If Jill Stein had won the election, she would have pardoned Snowden, among others.

Once Donald Trump gets sworn in, we will just have to do what we did with Obama. Keep trying to get him to support people and planet over profits. It would also be nice if we could get him to support a peace initiative.

Only a suggestion; but, if you have not seen this, take a look at Jimmy Dore's video about Obama's legacy:
+3 # Billsy 2016-11-19 15:30
One suspects this is also the reason why the democratic party has proven unacceptable to libertarian voters who value civil liberties. So much for a constitutional scholar as President. When the liberal class makes excuses for Obama's violations or ignores them it only further erodes what pretense this nation has as a representative democracy.
0 # lorenbliss 2016-11-19 17:21
@djnova50: It seems you -- and most others on this thread -- do not understand the deadly totality of what Moron Nation has done to itself.

Nor do they comprehend what our mercilessly capitalist overlords have done to us by allowing us, for at least the past 53 years, nothing more than a choice between two de facto Nazi Parties, one clandestinely Nazi, as in LBJ's war of extermination against the Vietnamese, the other ever-more brazenly Nazi, as in Goldwater's opposition to civil rights for USian minorities.

Thus this election has finally mainstreamed, totally and forever, that cesspool of tyrannical horror than has lain at Moron Nation's epicenter at least since the Bankers' Plot 1930s.

Thus too, too many of us are failing to grasp the message of Trump's appointments: that any and all pretense of "democracy" is now forever gone from this nation -- and that any who dare resist will suffer the fate of the White Rose Society.

That is what Trump's appointments are telling us. Once he takes office, IT WILL BE FUCKING BAD, infinitely worse than it has EVER been in the U.S. Forget the Constitution; forget the courts. It will be PINOCHET TORTURE-CHAMBER BAD, POL POT MASS-MURDER BAD, HITLER DEATH-CAMP BAD.

And we on the Left are no more prepared to resist tyranny of this hatefully murderous magnitude than a classroom full of kindergarten kids are prepared to resist an invasion of suicide bombers.
-1 # lorenbliss 2016-11-19 21:21
And by the way, dinova50, major thanks for the Jimmy Dore link. Everyone who reads RSN should listen to how Dore indicts Barack the Betrayer.

(Too bad there is not a People's Court, with Dore its chief prosecutor.)
+3 # John of Milpitas 2016-11-19 14:58
Helpful note to others looking for the above Jimmy Dore video: copy link, go to, then paste link on youtube's search bar.
+4 # janie1893 2016-11-19 16:13
President Obama is saving Snowdon's life
by not pardoning him. Trump and his buddies will kill Snowdon if he returns to the US. Snowdon knows this.
-1 # lorenbliss 2016-11-19 17:36
@janie1893: Moreover -- despite the implicit praise for Barack the Betrayer, who is one of USian Nazism's prime enablers and will go down in history as such -- I think you're right.

For if Trump sends one of Pompeo's death squads into Russia after Snowden -- and there is now no doubt Trump will have death squads aplenty -- it will deal a mortal blow to any U.S. -- Russian detente.

Though that detente could well be meaningless: never forget the Hitler-Stalin Pact.
-2 # HahliHohli 2016-11-19 16:30
It no longer makes any difference what these haters think, say, or do, for there is a tsunami of Divine Love that is taking over this planet and they will be overcome by it and not know from whence it came and the righteous majority will stand firm in love till the Age of Enlightenment has been finally accomplished.

And so it is! Namaste!

+2 # lorenbliss 2016-11-19 17:41
@HahliHohli: Utter nonsense. If there is indeed a god, which I cannot but gravely doubt, she has obviously abandoned us forever, having long ago concluded* our species was a terminal mistake.
*No doubt the pivotal moment was our species' adoption of patriarchy, our declaration of war on her and all she represents, the war now fulfilling itself as capitalist ecocide perpetuated by Nazi suppression of any and all possible resistance.
-1 # HahliHohli 2016-11-19 19:34
lorenbliss, you sound anything but blissful. A more positive attitude would help a lot!

Who can fathom the will and working of the Divine?

All is in chaos right now and it certainly looks grim, but true transformation is never pretty. Everything will be torn down to be built again, but this time it will be built based on a balance between the male and female energies and that will make all the difference. The feminine is definitely rising!

Please look at all the positive endeavors of many of the activist movements, people coming together to make a better world for themselves and their families. This would never have happened if things had not gotten as chaotic as they are right now.

We are literally being forced by climate change, poor economy, no decent jobs, a divisive president elect, etc., to decide what we want our future world to look like and then taking the responsibility to make sure it happens instead of living our insular lives not minding what is going on around us. This is most-positive progress and absolutely Divinely inspired!

Yes we do have a long way to go, but well begun is half done!

Wishing you a very peaceful holiday coming next week and may your bliss become blissful!

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