Rand Paul: President Trump Should Pardon Edward Snowden

Rand Paul: President Trump Should Pardon Edward Snowden

As this term ends, and I look back on the record of Donald Trump as president, one thing stands out: he has been far more libertarian and done more on foreign policy and civil liberties than has any recent president.

First, as in my previous profession as a physician, my first yardstick for a politician is to “do no harm.” President Trump has started no new wars, has kept us out of conflicts like Syria, and has been actively attempting to wind down the wars he inherited in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He also inherited another reaction to the war on terror — the so-called Patriot Act. The Patriot Act has been used to spy on Americans since 2001, and many parts of it should never have been passed and should not be allowed to continue. This past year, when some of the worst parts of the Patriot Act were up for renewal, President Trump stopped its renewal with a veto threat.

The Deep State and the War Caucus were in a frenzy when that happened — “How will we survive?  The terrorists will surely overrun us!”  When I filibustered the renewal of the Patriot Act, a senior Republican senator warned me, “We’ll have no way to fight the terrorists!”  I replied, “We could try something novel and simply follow the Constitution!”

Well, we’ve done that for months now, and all is well.  We should keep doing that in the new administration.

Lovers of liberty have President Trump to thank for his foreign policy and opposition to Patriot Act renewal — but there is one more important symbolic step he needs to take now. He should pardon Edward Snowden for revealing the unconstitutional spying that was going on, even beyond what was envisioned from the Patriot Act.

Itis important to remember that Snowden leaked information about unconstitutional spying and was motivated to do so after watching Obama Director of National Intelligence James Clapper lie about it under oath. Clapper lied to Congress multiple times, along with participating in many unconstitutional endeavors, including spying on Americans and participating in the Russia Hoax.  He lied in 2013, and he lied again during the Russia probe.

He and others like him in the Deep State abused power and shredded the Constitution.  And Snowden exposed them.

Contrary to the media narrative, Snowden was attempting to expose this type of anti-American behavior from the Deep State, not damage our security. In his own words, he said,

I would say the breaking point was seeing the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, directly lie under oath to Congress.  There’s no saving an intelligence community that believes it can lie to the public and the legislators who need to be able to trust it and regulate its actions.  Seeing that really meant for me that there was no going back.  Beyond that, it was the creeping realization that no one else was going to do this.  The public had a right to know about these programs.  The public had a right to know that which the government is doing in its name, and that which the government is doing against the public.

Barack Obama, trying to protect the Deep State liars, tried to imprison Snowden for being a “traitor.” Joe Biden — an ally of the Deep State and self-proclaimed author of parts of the Patriot Act — would continue the wrongful prosecution.

But Snowden is no traitor.  He is a true whistleblower who was trying to expose those like Clapper who used Deep State powers in secret to go after Americans. Snowden should be pardoned. And this president, who distinguished himself as an opponent of the Deep State on issues of war and spying on Americans, should be the one to do it.

Rand Paul, MD, is a U.S. senator from Kentucky.
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