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NSA Considers Amnesty for Edward Snowden

Officials from the National Security Agency debated an amnesty option for Edward Snowden on Sunday, which would allow the whistleblower a safe return to the United States in exchange for all classified information he withheld from the agency.

“My personal view is, yes, it’s worth having a conversation about,” said Rick Ledgett, the NSA official assessing the impact of Snowden’s leaks. “I would need assurances that the remainder of the data could be secured and my bar for those assurances would be very high. It would be more than just an assertion on his part.”

Ledgett added that Snowden might still have approximately 31,000 documents which could compromise U.S. surveillance methods with information that would give opposing nations an edge on counter-intelligence.

NSA’s director Keith Alexander, also present in the “60 Minutes” interview, disagreed with Ledgett. “This is analogous to a hostage taker taking 50 people hostage, shooting 10 and then say, ‘If you give me full amnesty I’ll let the other 40 go,'” Alexander said. “I think people have to be held accountable for their actions. Because what we don’t want is the next person to do the same thing, race off to Hong Kong and to Moscow with another set of data knowing they can strike the same deal.”

Regardless of debate, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf maintained that Snowden still faces charges and that Ledgett’s words were only a “personal view.”

Snowden, who leaked several documents regarding U.S. intelligence-gathering practices earlier this year, assured that all of those documents were given to journalists in Hong Kong and that no files were taken with him to Russia, adding that “it wouldn’t serve the public interest” to hand them over to Russian intelligence.

About the author

Gary Bryan is an industrial marketing manager by daytime and political and social issues writer by night. You can also find his editorials at Mic.com.