Why is Edward Snowden still alive? by Tony Garcia
Answer by Tony Garcia:
In 1976, President Gerald Ford signed Executive Order (EO) 11905, banning direct political assassinations. A loophole in the EO allowed for indirect assassinations, whereby the CIA could hire foreign operatives to kill the agency’s political targets.
Six years later, in l981, President Ronald Reagan signed EO 12333. That order not only reaffirmed Ford’s ban on direct assassinations, it also closed the loophole in EO 11905. “No agency of the Intelligence Community,” Reagan ordered, “shall participate in or request any person to undertake activities forbidden by this order.”
However, by not distinguishing between peacetime and wartime targeted killings, and by failing to define the word “assassination,” this second EO still left open to question the legality of assassinating an American citizen who is aiding the enemy on foreign soil.
In 2010, President Barack Obama set a new assassination precedent when he authorized CIA to kill radical Muslin cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. A U.S. citizen born in New Mexico, al-Awlaki was linked to an attempt to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner. The CIA traced him to Yemen and ended his life with a drone strike.
For many, Edward Snowden’s situation presents an ethical dilemma, though much less so for the Oval Office. Americans are almost equally divided over whether Snowden is a traitor or a hero; to kill him would be a polarizing public-relations nightmare. To assassinate Snowden in a foreign country that was protecting him would create a diplomatic crisis.
To date, the Justice Department has charged Edward Snowden with three felonies, two of which are covered by the Espionage Act of 1917. Significantly, the Justice Department has not charged Snowden with treason.
Despite the clarion-calls for Edward Snowden’s execution from President Trump and others, to charge him with treason the Justice Department must produce specific, credible instances that prove Snowden provided material aid to the enemy. As of now, they merely claim that he has.
And that is not enough, legally or not, to justify murdering the man.