In an exclusive interview released Sunday, infamous former NSA contractor Edward Snowden lamented a “two-tier” system in the United States that punishes some and lets others off the hook with minor punishment.
Snowden contrasted the fallout following the information he shared with journalists compared to Gen. David Petraeus’ leak of classified information to a biographer.
“We have a two-tiered system of justice in the United States, where people who are either well-connected to government or they have access to an incredible amount of resources get very light punishments,” Snowden said to Yahoo News. “Perhaps the best-known case in recent history here is Gen. Petraeus — who shared information that was far more highly classified than I ever did with journalists...” he added. “And he shared this information not with the public for their benefit, but with his biographer and lover for personal benefit — conversations that had information, detailed information, about military special-access programs, that’s classified above top secret, conversations with the president and so on.”
Does the former government contractor have a point? After Snowden revealed widespread surveillance bring conducted on American citizens, he has been seeking temporary refuge in Russia to avoid prosecution from authorities. He’s been living in Moscow since 2013.
In contrast, Petraeus plead guilty in 2015 to giving access to documents containing top secret Sensitive Compartmented Information to his biographer and lover, Paula Broadwell. He was sentenced to two years probation and given a fine of $100,000.
To be fair, Snowden does not know what his punishment from the United States government would be because he’s been avoiding prosecution since day one of his revelations. He’s been hiding in Putin’s Russia because he chose to flee there. Petraeus faced the justice system head on when he committed his transgressions.
Nonetheless, perhaps a secretary of state nomination isn’t the best idea for a man who would need to seek approval from his parole officer before accepting any cabinet-level position.