Hillary Clinton's answer on Edward Snowden was absolutely wrong. He didn't have whistleblower protections and she needs to step out of the intelligence bubble and realize that. Via Mother Jones:
Snowden is one of the subjects about which Clinton has remained consistent, but she has a problem: When it comes to suggesting Snowden had whistleblower protections, she's dead wrong. This, from a Washington Post piece published nearly two years ago:
Most federal employees who report waste, fraud and abuse have legal protections against retaliation by their bosses. If employees are retaliated against, the law defines certain procedures designed to get justice for whistbleblowers.For employees in national security agencies, the protections are still a promise. National security contractors don’t even have that.Snowden was a contractor for the NSA when he leaked classified information about top-secret surveillance programs to The Washington Post and Britain’sGuardian.
That doesn't take into account cases such as Thomas Drake's, a former senior NSA executive who obeyed the law while trying to report problems within the NSA and found himself on the wrong side of a major investigation. He now works at an Apple store outside of Washington, DC. Admittedly, the law is fairly complicated, but asPolitifact pointed out in January 2014, when the Guardian's Glenn Greenwald said Snowden did not have any whistleblower protections under the Espionage Act, his claim was "mostly true." Greenwald received the classified information from Snowden.
Greenwald said that if Snowden returned to the United States, he would have no protections under the Espionage Act and would not be allowed to justify his actions in court. In terms of the law, Greenwald is literally correct.Two other legal documents, however, could have provided Snowden some potential protections before he shared classified information with the press. But once he did, no law offers Snowden any shelter.
The only candidate who agreed with her was Martin O'Malley:
"Whistleblowers do not run to Russia and try to get protection from Putin," O'Malley said.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said that Snowden broke the law and "there should be a penalty for that," but took a much more generous view of what Snowden did and said the benefits of his actions should be taken into account before any sanctions are handed down."I think Snowden played a very important role in educating the American people to the degree in which our civil liberties and our constitutional rights are being undermined," Sanders said.
Former Virginia senator Jim Webb didn't quite answer the question, saying he would leave Snowden's fate to the legal system, but that the government is too intrusive in its collection of bulk data.