As part of Obama’s effort to increase transparency and participation in government, the website whitehouse.gov allows people to submit petitions, and guarantees that if any petition receives more than 100,000 signatures, it will receive a response.
It is somewhat ironic then that the response to a relatively popular petition was used to strike a blow against transparency. The White House, after a notable two-year delay, has finally responded to a petition that Edward Snowden be pardoned. That petition received 167,954 signatures, more than enough to require a response.
The response accuses Snowden of things he technically did not do:
Instead of constructively addressing these issues, Mr. Snowden’s dangerous decision to steal and disclose classified information had severe consequences for the security of our country and the people who work day in and day out to protect it.
While Snowden did steal classified information, it was news organizations (including the Guardian, Washington Post, New York Times, and others) who did the disclosing. And the government has not actually specified any “severe consequences” that can be independently confirmed.
More secrecy, less transparency.
The response says that Snowden “should come home to the United States, and be judged by a jury of his peers.” But due to some of the secret laws that Snowden exposed, a fair trial for Snowden would be all but impossible. The Espionage Act would specifically bar Snowden from arguing that his leaks were justified, even though it is clear that they were. Snowden’s actions helped to expose illegal actions on the part of the government and led to Congress passing reforms.