Brian Schweitzer: If Edward Snowden is a criminal, then so are a lot of people that are working within the CIA and the NSA who have been spying illegally on American citizens. They ought to grant Snowden clemency. Now, let me say this: Shame on us if we had a person working for a private contractor, without a high school diploma, who was in possession of our most delicate secrets. We look like Keystone Kops! But I don’t have any problem with the NSA and their mission of collecting information on foreign leaders. They spy on us; we spy on them. I’ve got a real big problem with American neighbors spying on American neighbors.
Schweitzer is a shrewd politician, and one assumes that he has given his position on Snowden some thought. He appears to have concluded that defending Snowden will strengthen his civil libertarian bona fides, and that Kaplan’s contention that Snowden’s revelations materially damaged America’s ability to achieve legitimate foreign policy objectives is not enough to merit serious punishment. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, another future presidential contender, has called for lenient treatment of Snowden, if not clemency. There are many smart people who agree with Kaplan on the one hand and Schweitzer on the other, and though I can’t imagine that the Obama administration will embrace the idea of lenient punishment or clemency, there are plenty of mainstream Democrats who favor it. I’m going to interview two very smart people on this subject on Friday, and I’ll be sure to report back.