(image by Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism)
Two major newspapers, the Guardian and the New York Times, both came out today with editorials in favor of granting clemency for NSA leaker, Edward Snowden.
Why stop there? If, as the papers claim, and many agree, Snowden isn't a criminal but rather a whistleblower, it begs the question; who was he blowing the whistle on and what crimes were being committed?
Well, thanks to Snowden we know the answers to those questions. Crimes were being committed - maybe dozens of crimes, maybe millions or hundreds of million crimes, if we count each instance.
I am not going to re litigate Snowden's actions here. I have another beef, a bigger one.
There is legal concept ... encoded into US federal statutes - called, "misprision of a felony." Here's how it goes definition:
"Whoever, having knowledge of the actual commission of a felony cognizable by a court of the United States, conceals and does not as soon as possible make known the same to some judge or other person in civil or military authority under the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.
Ed Snowden found himself in a unique position as one of a tiny number of Americans who actually knew what the NSA, and other US intel agencies, were up to. He also knew it was wrong - legally wrong - as in felony-wrong.
His choices were limited. He could keep his mouth shut and keep on doing what he was told, becoming an accessory, or he could just leave the agency and keep his mouth shut, thereby committing what? - misprision of a felony -- itself a felony.
Instead he did the right thing - he yell "STOP! THIEF!"
And what happened then? The felons yelled "foul" and demanded Snowden be arrested.
The whole "Get Snowden" reaction by the perps reminds me of the old legal joke about the kid who murdered his parents then begged the court for mercy because he's an orphan. Only this is worse, this is chutzpah on a scale only the old KGB and Stasi could pull off with straight faces.
But wait, there's more. Forget for a moment the crimes that Snowden revealed. What about all those federal officials and contractors who knew about this massive ongoing felony and said nothing about it? Aren't they guilty of a misprision of a felony?
To violate the misprision statute requires simple, but clear acts by the perps:
To sustain a conviction of misprision of a felony, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt:
- that the principal had committed and completed the felony alleged;
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