On today's edition of This Week, Rand Paul suggested that Edward Snowden probably won't ever come back to this country unless he's offered what amounts to a plea bargain.
“I think the only way he’s coming home is if someone would offer him a fair trial with a reasonable sentence, but I don’t think the death penalty,” Paul said of Snowden. “I mean, we’ve had people all over the news, some of the same people who are defending James Clapper lying to Congress are saying ‘off with his head’ or he should be hung from the nearest tree. I don’t think that’s appropriate and I think really in the end, history is going to judge that he revealed great abuses of our government and great abuses of our intelligence community…”Watch the full piece here:
Paul argues that while Snowden broke the law, there's one whopper of a mitigating circumstance at play here--he exposed government actions that the courts are now saying are illegal and unconstitutional. He also pointed out that one of the documents Snowden leaked was a blanket order to Verizon demanding that it open all of its customer records for NSA review. To Paul's mind, it's the very thing that British officials did before the Revolution. He's filing a class-action suit against the NSA which argues its phone metadata program is a Fourth Amendment violation. Paul may be a stopped clock, but you have to give credit where it's due.
Chuck Schumer followed Paul on the show, and sadly he fell down. He claimed that if Snowden is really in the American tradition of civil disobedience, he should come back and face the trial and whatever consequences that result. The problem with that argument is that Snowden potentially faces the death penalty. If Snowden is put to death and it's ever definitively proven that the NSA broke the law, how's that going to look? What we have here is a classic case of the central argument against the death penalty--if you're wrong, you don't get a do-over.