Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

It Isn’t Snowden Who Needs Clemency


A White House petition asking US president Barack Obama to pardon NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has passed the 100,000-signature mark, theoretically compelling a response from the Obama administration (I say “theoretically” because the finish line on these petitions has been moved before).

My own sympathies naturally lie with Snowden, and the petitioners’ hearts are presumably in the right place, but I can’t help thinking that the petitioners have things backward.

Edward Snowden committed no crime. Rather, he exposed the crimes of the very administration being petitioned (and “classification” of information for the purpose of concealing criminal activity is itself illegal). To presume, as this petition does, an entitlement on the part of an acknowledged criminal to pardon — or to persecute — the hero who brings that criminal’s actions to light is, in a word, perverse.

Obama and his associates haven’t just violated “their” own codified laws. They have, by their own admissions, declared and prosecuted war on the very people in whose names they claim their power, wandering well beyond the pale of authoritarianism and raising the totalitarian flag over their battlements.

It isn’t Snowden who needs clemency. It’s Barack Obama, his co-conspirators and his accessories before and after the fact. Nor is it Snowden alone before whom the crooks should be made to grovel for mercy. The fate of the Obama Spy Ring rightfully belongs in the hands of ALL its victims.

Will these telecom voyeurs, these data burglars — and their bosses — be made to truly pay for their crimes? It seems unlikely, as they are made members of the world’s most powerful organized crime syndicate, the government of the United States.

While the gang occasionally finds itself compelled to throw a bit player or two under the bus to simmer things down a bit, the kingpins, ringleaders and shot-callers usually walk without consequence. Which explains why US Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and US Representative Mike Rogers (R-MI) are at present freely vocalizing their “fury” at Snowden instead of modeling orange coveralls while making big rocks into small rocks on the grounds of some penal institution.

This isn’t just some random racket ginned up by a few assorted thugs. It’s far bigger than that. If we want to get clear of these schemers and their schemes, we’re going to have to suppress the larger racketeer-influenced corrupt organization. That is, we must abolish the US government — preferably sowing salt in the earth of, and leaving not one stone standing atop another in, Washington, DC.

Otherwise, we’ll just have to be satisfied with absurd and hopeless gestures, like asking Barack Obama to forgive Edward Snowden for revealing, and us for noticing, his crimes.

Thomas L. Knapp is Senior News Analyst at the Center for a Stateless Society (

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism ( He lives and works in north central Florida.

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


October 27, 2016
Paul Street
An Identity-Politicized Election and World Series Lakefront Liberals Can Love
Matthew Stevenson
Sex and the Presidential City
Jim Kavanagh
Tom Hayden’s Haunting
CJ Hopkins
The Pathologization of Dissent
Mike Merryman-Lotze
The Inherent Violence of Israel’s Gaza Blockade
Robert Fisk
Is Yemen Too Much for the World to Take?
Shamus Cooke
Stopping Hillary’s Coming War on Syria
Jan Oberg
Security Politics and the Closing of the Open Society
Ramzy Baroud
The War on UNESCO: Al-Aqsa Mosque is Palestinian and East Jerusalem is Illegally Occupied
Colin Todhunter
Lower Yields and Agropoisons: What is the Point of GM Mustard in India?
Norman Pollack
The Election: Does It Matter Who Wins?
Nyla Ali Khan
The Political and Cultural Richness of Kashmiriyat
Barbara Nimri Aziz
“It’s Only a Car!”
October 26, 2016
John W. Whitehead
A Deep State of Mind: America’s Shadow Government and Its Silent Coup
Eric Draitser
Dear Liberals: Trump is Right
Anthony Tarrant
On the Unbearable Lightness of Whiteness
Mark Weisbrot
The Most Dangerous Place in the World: US Pours in Money, as Blood Flows in Honduras
Chris Welzenbach
The Establishment and the Chattering Hack: a Response to Nicholas Lemann
Luke O'Brien
The Churchill Thing: Some Big Words About Trump and Some Other Chap
Sabia Rigby
In the “Jungle:” Report from the Refugee Camp in Calais, France
Linn Washington Jr.
Pot Decriminalization Yields $9-million in Savings for Philadelphia
Pepe Escobar
“America has lost” in the Philippines
Pauline Murphy
Political Feminism: the Legacy of Victoria Woodhull
Lizzie Maldonado
The Burdens of World War III
David Swanson
Slavery Was Abolished
Thomas Mountain
Preventing Cultural Genocide with the Mother Tongue Policy in Eritrea
Colin Todhunter
Agrochemicals And The Cesspool Of Corruption: Dr. Mason Writes To The US EPA
October 25, 2016
David Swanson
Halloween Is Coming, Vladimir Putin Isn’t
Hiroyuki Hamada
Fear Laundering: an Elaborate Psychological Diversion and Bid for Power
Priti Gulati Cox
President Obama: Before the Empire Falls, Free Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu-Jamal
Kathy Deacon
Plus ça Change: Regime Change 1917-1920
Robin Goodman
Appetite for Destruction: America’s War Against Itself
Richard Moser
On Power, Privilege, and Passage: a Letter to My Nephew
Rev. William Alberts
The Epicenter of the Moral Universe is Our Common Humanity, Not Religion
Dan Bacher
Inspector General says Reclamation Wasted $32.2 Million on Klamath irrigators
David Mattson
A Recipe for Killing: the “Trust Us” Argument of State Grizzly Bear Managers
Derek Royden
The Tragedy in Yemen
Ralph Nader
Breaking Through Power: It’s Easier Than We Think
Norman Pollack
Centrist Fascism: Lurching Forward
Guillermo R. Gil
Cell to Cell Communication: On How to Become Governor of Puerto Rico
Mateo Pimentel
You, Me, and the Trolley Make Three
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
October 24, 2016
John Steppling
The Unwoke: Sleepwalking into the Nightmare
Oscar Ortega
Clinton’s Troubling Silence on the Dakota Access Pipeline
Patrick Cockburn
Aleppo vs. Mosul: Media Biases