Two years after 167,000 US citizens filed a petition to pardon Edward Snowden, the White House finally answered. The answer: Strong "no." In a belated response, Homeland Security advisor Lisa Monaco accused Snowden of "running away from the consequences of his actions."
When a petition surpasses 100,000 signatures through the government's official petitioning platform, the White House is supposed to respond. Even though the Snowden petition had more than 167,000 signatures, it looked like it was going to get ignored.
Here's the full White House response:
Thanks for signing a petition about Edward Snowden. This is an issue that many Americans feel strongly about. Because his actions have had serious consequences for our national security, we took this matter to Lisa Monaco, the President's Advisor on Homeland Security and Counterterrorism. Here's what she had to say:
"Since taking office, President Obama has worked with Congress to secure appropriate reforms that balance the protection of civil liberties with the ability of national security professionals to secure information vital to keep Americans safe.
As the President said in announcing recent intelligence reforms, "We have to make some important decisions about how to protect ourselves and sustain our leadership in the world, while upholding the civil liberties and privacy protections that our ideals and our Constitution require."
Instead of constructively addressing these issues, Mr. Snowden's dangerous decision to steal and disclose classified information had severe consequences for the security of our country and the people who work day in and day out to protect it.
If he felt his actions were consistent with civil disobedience, then he should do what those who have taken issue with their own government do: Challenge it, speak out, engage in a constructive act of protest, and — importantly — accept the consequences of his actions. He should come home to the United States, and be judged by a jury of his peers — not hide behind the cover of an authoritarian regime. Right now, he's running away from the consequences of his actions.
We live in a dangerous world. We continue to face grave security threats like terrorism, cyber-attacks, and nuclear proliferation that our intelligence community must have all the lawful tools it needs to address. The balance between our security and the civil liberties that our ideals and our Constitution require deserves robust debate and those who are willing to engage in it here at home."
Why did it take so long? Maybe the White House was trying to figure out a less-hollow way to pitch platitudes about the specter of terrorism as excuses for immuring its surveillance apparatus from meaningful criticism, but it eventually gave up, because Monaco is still running these tired lines. It's insulting to the people who signed this petition that Monaco is insisting that Snowden could've affected meaningful change on NSA policy from within.