aNewDomain — In a stunning about-face, U.S. President Obama announced via Google + today that he has invited NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden to come back to the U.S. All espionage charges, including theft of government property and unauthorized communication of national defense information, will be dropped Obama said, adding that “Snowden can expect a full and total pardon.”
The so-called Obama Pardons Snowden Google+ post — and, later, tweet — kicked off an announcement that is shocking privacy watchers and NSA apologists on both sides of the pond. Not everyone trusts the president’s intentions, however.
Snowden fans immediately took to the social nets to declare Obama’s move to forgive and absolve Snowden nothing short of miraculous. “It’s a return to sanity I never expected to live to see,” said Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Ann Marie Rand in a hastily put together statement sent by text to this reporter.
Others, particularly those on Google+, wondered if the post from +Barack Obama was merely a trick to lure Snowden back into the country for punishment.
UPDATE: In a specially convened media briefing just moments ago, White House legal counsel Trip Doble-Swanson IV explained the chain of events more clearly, reiterating that it is Obama’s intention to fully absolve Snowden. He hinted in comments to reporters after the briefing that Snowdon “might even have a fat little government post waiting for him.”
Doble-Swanson left the briefing afterward, not answering reporters questions as to whether that last comment was just a joke. Doble-Swanson, reporters on the hill know, is not typically given to levity.
According to Obama’s Google+ post and details shared at the briefing, however, the president does sound awfully serious about absolving Snowden.
Chummy, even. What is going on?
Obama, in the post, said he has come to believe that Snowden was a loyal American citizen at the time he leaked the details of the NSA PRISM program to the world in June 2013, revealing the extent of the U.S. government’s widespread spying on the emails and even postal mail of the American people and others around the world.
Obama said: ‘He could’ve done much worse, but he didn’t. For instance, he didn’t reveal anything about the algorithms that the NSA uses, the groups or individuals that the agency targets or the identities of U.S. agents. (His leaks to the media) didn’t contain the contents of any U.S. military plans or of any conversations between U.S. or foreign officials.’ “
In retrospect, what Snowden did is all quite mild. Especially if you compare him to what those assholes in ISIS are doing in the Middle East. I mean, there’s no contest. Is there? It’s time for Snowden to come home.
Update: In a tweet from the @whitehouse account, someone claiming to be Obama went on to say that the ” Snowden contribution to civil rights is historic.” It is high time, another tweet attributed to Obama said, “that we all just mellow the f&^k out and let Snowden be the cool guy our operatives in Russia (say) he is.”
A source close to the NSA told an aNewDomain reporter that the agency will be flying its flag at half staff later today, and that it already has contacted the group of Republican senators who recently tried to mess with Obama’s Iran talks. The source said, “They’re not afraid of anything. Obama is such a wimp.”
Our correspondent, Red Tall in Moscow, has been unable to get a reaction from Snowden, who is still in hiding in Russia.
Sources in Russian leader Vladimir Putin`s cabinet, however, did confirm that the White House informed them about plans to “bring Snowden home” last week. The Russians, however, worry it might just be an April Fool’s joke.
At any rate, bringing Snowden back to the U.S. will be a great loss to the Russian’s propaganda machine, he added.
Update from our Gerry Tardner: Sources close to Michelle Obama said that a man closely resembling Snowden was seen harvesting vegetables with the First Lady. Both were seen nibbling on some baby carrots and later tasting some mint.
But sources close to the President say that Snowden’s brother was the one in the garden with the First Lady. In a show of good faith, Snowden’s brother, Ernest, was invited to spend a day with the First Family to assuage any remaining doubts that Edward has about coming home.
And moments ago, Obama’s lead butler was seen storming out of the back door of the White House early this evening. Although he refused to offer a specific comment, he kept muttering: “Shameful times, oh, my, my, shameful times.” The butler’s brother is rumored to be in the NSA, and one of the White House maids sent our team a text that read:
“Jebediah said he could not continue to polish the shoes of a man that pardoned Edward Snowden.”
Another source reports that the butler gave notice after learning that a Pot Roast State Dinner is being planned to welcome Snowden home.
Update Postscript: Sources close to Mr. Snowden’s brother, Ernest, report that he was very pleased with the vegetables he brought home from the White House, and he has sent his brother a note to please come home so that they can attend a pot roast dinner at the White House. Ernest went on to say that President Obama has offered his brother a job as the Leak Fixer. He didn’t know if Edward will be solely tasked with fixing NSA leaks or if the job may require Snowden to fix leaks in Congress, the Pentagon and other leaky government offices.
For aNewDomain, I’m Michael Davidackis.
Gerry Tardner and Gina Smith contributed to this piece.