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Holder the Hypocrite

by RUSSELL MOKHIBER

Attorney General Eric Holder said last week that prosecutors would be willing to talk to National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden on the condition that Snowden be willing to plead guilty to criminal charges.

Holder doesn’t require that condition to negotiate with the most egregious corporate criminals.

In fact, during is tenure, Holder has perfected the government’s practice of offering deferred and non prosecution agreements to major corporations to settle major corporate crime cases.

Under a deferred prosecution agreement, the corporation is charged with a crime, but if the company abides by the agreement for a period of years, then the government drops the criminal charges.

Under a non prosecution agreement, the government just collects a fine. There is no criminal charge. There is no admission of wrongdoing.

Since taking office in February 2009, Holder has dished out deferred and non prosecution agreements to more than 100 large publicly held corporations, including JPMorgan Chase (Madoff Ponzi scheme), Archer Daniels Midland(foreign bribery), Diebold (foreign bribery), UBS (interest rate manipulation),HSBC (money laundering), Pfizer (foreign bribery), Wachovia (money laundering), Tyson Foods (foreign bribery), Barclays Bank (Trading with the Enemies Act), Deutsche Bank (tax shelter fraud).

How is what Snowden did any worse than what these companies did?

In an editorial earlier this month titled Edward Snowden, Whistle-Blower, the New York Times wrote that as a result of Snowden’s leaks, “the public learned in great detail how the agency has exceeded its mandate and abused its authority, prompting outrage at kitchen tables and at the desks of Congress, which may finally begin to limit these practices.”

“The revelations have already prompted two federal judges to accuse the N.S.A. of violating the Constitution (although a third, unfortunately, found the dragnet surveillance to be legal). A panel appointed by President Obama issued a powerful indictment of the agency’s invasions of privacy and called for a major overhaul of its operations.”

“Considering the enormous value of the information he has revealed, and the abuses he has exposed, Mr. Snowden deserves better than a life of permanent exile, fear and flight,” the Times wrote. “He may have committed a crime to do so, but he has done his country a great service. It is time for the United States to offer Mr. Snowden a plea bargain or some form of clemency that would allow him to return home, face at least substantially reduced punishment in light of his role as a whistle-blower, and have the hope of a life advocating for greater privacy and far stronger oversight of the runaway intelligence community.”

Forget the criminal plea.

Holder ought to give Snowden the same deal he routinely gives major corporate criminals — a deferred or non prosecution agreement.

Russell Mokhiber edits the Corporate Crime Reporter.

Russell Mokhiber edits the Corporate Crime Reporter.

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