The surprise decision by President Obama to commute the sentence of Chelsea Manning over leaks immediately sparked speculation about the possibility of other whistleblowers falling into the same category, particularly NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, who stands virtually alone among leakers of documents on the scale of Manning.
President Obama seems to be throwing cold water on this suggestion, however, arguing that there is a “stark difference” between Manning, who admitted to wrongdoing and has been in prison for the last six years, and Snowden, who fled the country to avoid prison.
The White House is definitely positioning Snowden as worse than Manning, noting that Manning’s leaks were all at the “secret” level, and that Snowden’s leaks included documents of far higher classification and “far more dangerous” by the administration’s reckoning.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest also made a bureaucratic argument against any clemency for Snowden, arguing that Snowden “has not filed paperwork” that would qualify him for clemency, in spite of a major petition with around a million signatories calling for him to be pardoned.
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