Edward Snowden, who leaked National Security Agency secrets on a vast scale, making it more difficult for the United States to defend itself against terrorists and possibly causing the deaths of secret agents, says he wants to return to the United States from his exile in Russia–even if it means going to prison.
So, what's stopping you, Snowdy?
Oh, yes–Mr. Snowden wants a deal. He means prison but–you know–not for too long. He's special.
The Associated Press reports:
Snowden told the BBC that he'd "volunteered to go to prison with the government many times," but had not received a formal plea-deal offer.
He said that "so far they've said they won't torture me, which is a start, I think. But we haven't gotten much further than that."
In an interview broadcast Monday on the BBC's "Panorama" program, Snowden said he and his lawyers were waiting for U.S. officials "to call us back."
Earlier this year, former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said a plea deal with Snowden was a possibility.
Snowden's revelations about the NSA, Britain's GCHQ and other intelligence agencies set off an international debate about spies' powers to monitor personal communications, and about the balance between security and privacy.
Critics say his disclosures harmed the ability of the United States and its allies to fight terrorism. FBI deputy director Mark Giuliano told the BBC that Snowden was a traitor.
"The question is, if I was a traitor, who did I betray?" Snowden said. "I gave all of my information to American journalists and free society generally.
"I have paid a price but I feel comfortable with the decisions I've made," he added. "If I'm gone tomorrow, I'm happy with what I had. I feel blessed."
If Snowden doesn't know whom or what he has betrayed, I'd say that he needs a few more cold Russian winters. And you've got to love the flip remark about torture.
Knowing Snowden is miserable, that he is in a kind of quasi-prison, U.S. officials should feel that a degree of justice is being done, though perhaps not as appropriate as, say, a maximum security prison. There is no reason whatsoever to offer him a deal unless there is information the U.S. needs.
It's possible to believe that the National Security Agency collected too much information without condoning what Snowden did. There is some grim satisfaction in knowing that like the smug, ur-traitor before him, Snowden fled to Russia and found nothing but misery.