U.S. lawmakers are trying to stifle any hope that National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden will receive a pardon. On Thursday, the House intelligence committee sent a letter to President Obama urging him to treat Snowden as a criminal.
“Mr. Snowden is not a patriot. He is not a whistleblower,” the letter said.
The letter was sent amid calls from tech leaders and liberal activists for Obama to pardon Snowden. The campaign, supported by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and celebrities including actor Daniel Radcliffe, argues that Snowden sparked an important debate about government mass surveillance.
“It is clear that America’s democracy has benefited from Snowden’s actions,” activists said in an open letter from the group PardonSnowden.org.
Members of the House intelligence committee disagree. On Thursday, the committee released a four-page summary of a two-year investigation into Snowden that said he damaged U.S. national security.
“The vast majority of the documents he stole have nothing to do with programs impacting individual privacy interests,” the committee said in its summary. “They instead pertain to military, defense and intelligence programs of great interest to America’s adversaries.”
Russia, China, Iran and terrorists could access the information that Snowden released to do ill against the U.S., the summary said.
“Even by a conservative estimate, the U.S. Govemment has spent hundreds of millions of dollars, and will eventually spend billions, to attempt to mitigate the damage Snowden caused,” it said.
The committee didn’t release the full report to the public because it includes classified information. The investigation delved into Snowden’s background and how he was able to obtain 1.5 million documents from the NSA.
It goes on to claim that Snowden is “a serial exaggerator and fabricator,” citing past instances where the committee alleges he lied about his resume and credentials. Investigators did not interview Snowden or his NSA co-workers and supervisor directly. Instead, it relied on interviews with U.S. intelligence officials.
The committee has unanimously voted to adopt the investigative report on Snowden.
Earlier this week, Snowden made his own pitch on why he should be pardoned in an interview with the Guardian newspaper. “If not for these revelations we would be worse off,” he said. “Yes, there are laws on the books that say one thing, but perhaps this is why the pardon power exists — for the exceptions.”