Where the front-runners stand on surveillance, Snowden

U.S. presidential candidates air their views on the government's intelligence gathering on Americans

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What do the pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates think of domes­tic intel­li­gence collection—or spy­ing on Amer­i­cans, depend­ing on your point of view? What do they think of Edward Snowden?

We haven’t heard a lot about the NSA or Snow­den dur­ing the noisy cam­paigns, so far, and that’s a shame. That’s because all the air is being sucked out of the con­ver­sa­tion by more triv­ial con­cerns, such as Don­ald Trump’s debate sched­ule. But all the can­di­dates have spo­ken about domes­tic spy­ing and about Snowden.

As we wel­come elec­tion sea­son prop­er, here’s a primer on the can­di­dates’ views.

Relat­ed sto­ry: Cyber­se­cu­ri­ty a con­cern for can­di­dates on 2016 cam­paign trail

But first, a few notes: The most remark­able item of note is that Sen. Bernie Sanders vot­ed against the orig­i­nal Patri­ot Act back in 2001 as a mem­ber of the House. He’s part of a very select group who did so.

Sec­ond, while some can­di­dates have expressed a bit more sym­pa­thy for Snowden’s role as whistle­blow­er, they’ve all called for him to face pros­e­cu­tion for trea­son. Even Sanders.



sh_Rubio_220On Snow­den: He “sparked con­spir­a­cy theories.”

From the Atlantic: “We must also dis­tin­guish these rea­son­able con­cerns from con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries sparked by Edward Snow­den. This man is a trai­tor who has sought assis­tance and refuge from some of the world’s most noto­ri­ous vio­la­tors of lib­er­ty and human rights.”

On domes­tic sur­veil­lance: (from The Wash­ing­ton Post) “Those who vot­ed for the Free­dom Act, like Ted Cruz, put Amer­i­ca at risk by mak­ing it hard­er to gath­er intelligence.”


sh_Cruz_220On Snow­den: His opin­ion seems to have grown harsh­er over time.

In 2013, he said (TheHill.com): “If it is the case that the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment is seiz­ing mil­lions of per­son­al records about law-abid­ing cit­i­zens, and if it is the case that there are min­i­mal restric­tions on access­ing or review­ing those records, then I think Mr. Snow­den has done a con­sid­er­able pub­lic ser­vice by bring­ing it to light.”

More recent­ly, he said: “Today, we know that Snow­den vio­lat­ed fed­er­al law, that his actions mate­ri­al­ly aid­ed ter­ror­ists and ene­mies of the Unit­ed States, and that he sub­se­quent­ly fled to Chi­na and Rus­sia,” he con­tin­ued. “Under the Con­sti­tu­tion, giv­ing aid to our ene­mies is treason.”

On sur­veil­lance: (The Guardian) Cruz has defend­ed his Sen­ate for the USA Free­dom Act, which clar­i­fied the NSA’s meta­da­ta tele­phone records col­lec­tion program.


sh_Trump_220On Snow­den: He’s hint­ed that he’d lead a charge to return and exe­cute Snowden.

I think he’s a ter­ri­ble trai­tor, and you know what we used to do in the good old days when we were a strong coun­try? You know what we used to do to trai­tors, right?” Trump said on Fox.

On sur­veil­lance: “I tend to err on the side of secu­ri­ty, I must tell you,” he said (TheHill.com). “I assume when I pick up my tele­phone peo­ple are lis­ten­ing to my con­ver­sa­tions any­way, if you want to know the truth. … It’s a pret­ty sad commentary.”

He also said (TheHill.com) he would be “fine” with restor­ing pro­vi­sions of the Patri­ot Act to allow for the bulk data collection.



sh_Clinton_220On Snow­den: He should “face the music.”

(The Atlantic): “He broke the laws of the Unit­ed States. … He could have been a whis­tle-blow­er; he could have got­ten all the pro­tec­tions of a whis­tle-blow­er. He chose not to do that. He stole very impor­tant infor­ma­tion that has fall­en into the wrong hands, so I think he should not be brought home with­out fac­ing the music.”

On sur­veil­lance: Clin­ton vot­ed for both the 2001 Patri­ot Act and the 2008 FISA Amend­ments that extend­ed NSA data col­lec­tion capabilities.


sh_Sanders_220On Snow­den: “I think Snow­den played a very impor­tant role in edu­cat­ing the Amer­i­can pub­lic. … He did break the law, and I think there should be a penal­ty to that,” Sanders said (HuffingtonPost.com). He went on to say that the role Snow­den played in edu­cat­ing the pub­lic about vio­la­tions of their civ­il lib­er­ties should be con­sid­ered before he is sen­tenced. On the oth­er hand, this mild­ly sym­pa­thet­ic Snow­den sto­ry is post­ed on Sanders’ Sen­ate web page.

On sur­veil­lance: Sanders vot­ed against the Patri­ot Act in 2001 as a mem­ber of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. Lat­er in the Sen­ate, he vot­ed against the 2008 FISA Amendments.

Free resources:
Plan­ning ahead to reduce breach expenses
How to build cus­tomer loyalty by keep­ing data secure
Putting effec­tive data risk man­age­ment with­in reach

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