Though we doubt the broader public needed convincing, this is a significant milestone nonetheless, also after last month Trump shocked reporters by suggesting he could take a look at pardoning Edward Snowden:
Seven years after former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden blew the whistle on the mass surveillance of Americans’ telephone records, an appeals court has found the program was unlawful - and that the U.S. intelligence leaders who publicly defended it were not telling the truth.
From the start supporters of Snowden and the journalists who assisted in breaking the story internationally, such as Glen Greenwald, Laura Poitras and others, said the NSA program was a massive violation of citizens' 4th Amendment protections.
National security state hawks, however, attempted to focus the story on Snowden himself, saying his 'traitorous' actions compromised American spies and assets abroad, and also that it was a boon to Washington's enemies and rivals like Russia.
“I never imagined that I would live to see our courts condemn the NSA’s activities as unlawful and in the same ruling credit me for exposing them,” Snowden said on Twitter.
Seven years ago, as the news declared I was being charged as a criminal for speaking the truth, I never imagined that I would live to see our courts condemn the NSA's activities as unlawful and in the same ruling credit me for exposing them.— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) September 2, 2020
And yet that day has arrived. https://t.co/FRdG2zUA4U
And the ACLU said “Today’s ruling is a victory for our privacy rights,” adding that it “makes plain that the NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records violated the Constitution.”
Crucially, the three judge panel on the 9th Circuit specifically credited Edward Snowden for exposing it, as Politico notes:
Judge Marsha Berzon's opinion, which contains a half-dozen references to the role of former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden in disclosing the NSA metadata program, concludes that the "bulk collection" of such data violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
If Trump were to move on pardoning Snowden, who is still a fugitive in Russia facing US espionage charges, this could actually help Trump make the argument politically, despite AG Barr recently saying he'd vehemently oppose such a pardon.
It was only a couple weeks ago that Trump said “I’m going to take a very good look at it” when asked about a possible Snowden pardon.
The president raised eyebrows and anxiety across the D.C. beltway with his unprecedented remarks: “There are a lot of people that think that he is not being treated fairly. I mean, I hear that.”