The White House does not appear to be interested at this time in the possibility of an offer of amnesty for former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, according to comments Monday from a National Security Council spokeswoman.

From The Hill:

The White House on Monday said there had been “no change in U.S. policy” toward Edward Snowden, after a top National Security Agency official suggested the administration have a “conversation” about offering the former NSA contractor amnesty in exchange for the return of a cache of top-secret documents he stole.

“Mr. Snowden is charged with a felony and he should return home to face those charges, where he will be afforded all due process,” said National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden.

During an interview with “60 Minutes” that aired on Sunday night, Richard Ledgett, who heads an NSA task force handling unauthorized disclosures, said officials should weigh offering amnesty to prevent further disclosures.

“My personal view is, yes, it’s worth having a conversation about,” Ledgett said. “I would need assurances that the remainder of the data could be secured, and my bar for those assurances would be very high. It would be more than just an assertion on his part.”

(see also USA Today, White House: No amnesty for Snowden)

General Keith Alexander, the current director of the NSA, also doesn’t necessarily share the same view as Ledgett.  In the aforementioned 60 Minutes interview, Alexander said that people need to be held accountable for their actions.

Among those who think making a deal is a bad idea is Ledgett’s boss, Gen. Alexander.

Gen. Keith Alexander: This is analogous to a hostage taker taking 50 people hostage, shooting 10 and then say, “If you give me full amnesty I’ll let the other 40 go.” What do you do?

John Miller: It’s a dilemma.

Gen. Keith Alexander: It is.

John Miller: Do you have a pick?

Gen. Keith Alexander: I do. I think people have to be held accountable for their actions.

Gen. Keith Alexander: Because what we don’t want is the next person to do the same thing, race off to Hong Kong and to Moscow with another set of data knowing they can strike the same deal.

The surveillance policies of the NSA have been the subject of criticism after documents were taken from the agency by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and some of the information revealed by several media outlets.

Earlier this month, The Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger told a British parliamentary committee that the outlet had published only a very small percentage of the material it had received from Snowden.  The Guardian was one of the first to publish stories from the material, along with the Washington Post.

Edward Snowden currently remains in Russia, where he was granted temporary asylum.

You can view video or read a transcript of the full segment from 60 Minutes about the NSA at CBS News.


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