Report: NSA mulls Snowden amnesty (but it probably won’t happen) | Ars Technica

Aurich Lawson / The Guardian

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According to an interview on 60 Minutes scheduled for broadcast this coming Sunday, a top National Security Agency (NSA) official says that some in the government are considering giving amnesty to Edward Snowden in exchange for the return of all of the documents that he exfiltrated from the NSA.

According to CBS News, whose parent company produces 60 Minutes, NSA official Rick Ledgett told the news program that “it’s worth having a conversation about” possible amnesty for Snowden. Ledgett is in charge of the NSA’s unauthorized leak task force to investigate the Snowden leaks.

“I would need assurances that the remainder of the data could be secured, and my bar for those assurances would be very high,” he added. “It would be more than just an assertion on his part.”

Ledgett, who also has been tapped to be the agency’s number two official starting in January 2014, noted that this sentiment was “not unanimous” inside the NSA.

However, such a deal seems practically impossible, given that journalists Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras (both of whom reside outside the United States) are known to have a full set of the Snowden-leaked documents. Greenwald has said as recently as yesterday that “others have tens of thousands of documents.” Those others could include security researchers like Ashkan Soltani and Jacob Appelbaum, as well as other journalists such as Barton Gellman, Ryan Gallagher, and probably more.

The Hill quoted Gen. Keith Alexander, the head of the NSA, as opposing granting amnesty for Snowden in a separate CBS interview also slated to air on Sunday.

"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," Alexander said.

"This is analogous to a hostage-taker taking 50 people hostage, shooting 10 and then saying, 'If you give me full amnesty, I'll let the other 40 go.' What do you do?"