Ian Shank, Staff Writer

In 2013, Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor, released classified documents to a group of journalists about the government’s mass surveillance programs. He had to leave the United States and leave his girlfriend, Lindsay Mills, in the much overrated state of Hawaii. His whistle-blowing made such an impact that courts found the use of Section 215 of the Patriot Act to collect phone records to be wrong. Congress then replaced the Patriot Act with the USA Freedom Act to make the government’s use of data collection more transparent and to limit their ability to collect certain records. The United Nations even created a mandate to promote the right of privacy after the documents were released. Three years later, Edward Snowden now lives in Moscow, Russia, has a canceled passport, and has been charged with theft under the Espionage Act of 1917.

Recently, there has been a campaign to pardon Snowden that has gained attention by some of the country’s most prestigious news sources, such as the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. Unfortunately, the campaign has also been met with push back from lawmakers. The house intelligence committee had sent in a bipartisan letter to President Obama, asking him not to pardon Mr. Snowden. I think it would be really weird if he didn’t since he has literally pardoned almost all of Guantanamo Bay.  I, on the other hand, want Edward Snowden to be pardoned. He did what was right by telling the people about the government’s disturbing invasion of privacy.  The government shouldn’t be allowed to look right through our cameras on our phones and laptops. Think of how creepy that is. If I were to spy on people through their webcams, I would get arrested and thrown in jail. I think Snowden is a national hero and shouldn’t just get pardoned; he should be the new director of the NSA and be given a gold medal the size of Alaska for what he’s done. Just think about an America where you didn’t have to worry about the NSA recording your calls, spying on you through a webcam, listening to you through your microphone jack, and collect information about everything you do online, and yes that includes what you do on Snapchat and Instagram. I don’t know about you but I think that would be perfect and would make America great again.