Dear President Obama,
I am writing to ask you to use your presidential authority to pardon Edward Snowden, an American whistleblower who acted on the conviction that the public had a right and need to know about a global mass surveillance system that exceeded the limits of the Constitution.
Snowden’s actions, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting that followed, set in motion the most important debate about government surveillance in decades, and brought about reforms that continue to benefit our security and democracy.
Last year, Congress reined in the government’s surveillance authority for the first time in nearly four decades, after a federal appeals court struck down as illegal the NSA’s mass call-tracking program. A blue-ribbon commission you convened recommended 46 sweeping changes to our surveillance and security practices. And technology companies around the world have been newly invigorated to protect their customers and strengthen our communications infrastructure.
None of these reforms would have occurred without Snowden’s actions. Former Attorney General Eric Holder believes that Snowden “performed a public service by raising the debate that we engaged in and by the changes that we made.” You have also expressed confidence that the debate about surveillance and democracy he helped launch “will make us stronger.”
Snowden should not be threatened with serious felony convictions and prolonged confinement under World War One-era laws that treat him like a spy who sold secrets for profit.
Winston Churchill once wrote, “Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened.” Not so with Edward Snowden.
It is clear that America’s democracy has benefited from Snowden’s actions, and I am confident he will be remembered as a whistleblower and patriot. I urge you to use the powers granted to you under Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution to pardon Edward Snowden.