Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson open to pardoning Edward Snowden

The political climate in America in recent memory has never been so open minded. The Libertarian Party in the last election landed around one percent in the presidential race, with former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson showing himself to be an attractive alternate to Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama. In the time since, third parties and their candidates have only enjoyed more attention as people realize the Democrats and the Republicans are more concerned with power than the people.

The time is Gary Johnson’s again to prove he can do as well, if not better, than he did in 2012.

A number of issues separate Johnson from Donald Trump and a number of them separate him from Hillary Clinton, putting him in a unique position as an alternate to the two party candidates. One of these issues has been a controversial one in society: National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snwoden.

Snowden famously leaked thousands of classified intelligence files and blew the cover off the complexity of the surveillance state. Among the revelations was a series of programs that allowed for the federal government to not only spy on American citizens, but store their information as well. PRISM, for example, is the codename for an intelligence program that collects internet communications. Other revelations have come involving PRISM, including the secret order demanding that Verizon turn over tracking logs of customers’ phone calls to the NSA. Another program is XKeyscore, which Snowden himself described as having the capability to track anyone on the planet.

The leaked documents showed that the federal government had been tracking citizens, secretly demanding private information from companies, and storing loads of data ranging from email contact lists to cellular phone location data.

These programs are not only disturbing to all freedom-loving Americans and any rational human being with concerns about the massive growth of government, but it also is at odds with the Constitution. This has become the trend since the September 11th terrorist attacks.

Still, Snowden is seen by many in the D.C. elite and political mainstream as being a traitor and anti-American.

Inevitable Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump once said “I think Snowden is a terrible threat, I think he’s a terrible traitor, and you know what we used to do in the good old days when we were a strong country — you know what we used to do to traitors, right?” Hillary Clinton has also taken the position that Snowden broke the law and should be prosecuted.

This is a position held by the Obama Administration, which Trump and Clinton both agree with.

It’s disturbing to think that blowing the cover on widespread abuses of power could be seen as against American interests, considering America was founded on the principles of limited government and freedom. Furthermore, regardless of whether Snowden did break the law, the intelligence community has been freely abusing the constitutional limits of power and nobody has yet to be exiled from their home country due to it.

Gary Johnson took a different position.

In an interview, he stated: “If I were president of the United States, I would certainly look into actually pardoning Edward Snowden. This is someone who has divulged information that we would not know about currently and that’s the United States government spying on all of us as U.S. citizens.”

Furthermore, Johnson indicated he agreed with the assessment of former Attorney General Eric Holder, who stated he believed that Snowden performed a “public service” by opening up a public debate into the surveillance state.

The idea that Edward Snowden is a traitor is contrary to the principles this country was founded on. Regarding the idea of prosecution, until the intelligence community is faced with the same scrutiny that Snowden has, it’s an issue that shouldn’t even be on the table. There are worse things than Edward Snowden leaking classified documents.

Like the details contained within those classified documents.

Chris Dixon

About Chris Dixon

Chris Dixon is a libertarian-leaning writer. In addition to writing "Undercover Porcupine", he is also the Managing Editor for The Liberty Conservative and writes for Cleat Geeks and Medium.