According to a new poll, only 33% of Americans would support a presidential pardon for rogue National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who faces espionage charges. Of the poll respondents, 53% support these charges, while only 26% were opposed to a federal prosecution.
The poll comes from Morning Consult, which found few weak opinions among respondents. One way or the other, everyone seemed to have strong feelings about what Snowden has done and what the consequences should be.
“Neither party showed much sympathy for Snowden: 56 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Republicans said they would support government charges against Snowden. Forty-two percent of independents agreed,” Morning Consult reported.
These questions are highly relevant because Edward Snowden’s legal team has been exploring the possibility of returning him to the United States to face the music, with his personal attorney saying he will not come back “until he is certain he can receive a fair trial.”
On the other hand, a petition for the White House to grant Edward Snowden a pardon has gathered over 167,000 signatures over the past two years. This petition was flatly rejected by presidential Homeland Security and counterterrorism adviser Lisa Monaco, who called upon Snowden to “come home to the United States, and be judged by a jury of his peers,” instead of “running away from the consequences of his actions.”
The most significant partisan split in the poll was over the question of a pardon, with Republicans rejecting the idea by 57-24, while Democrats and independents were more evenly divided. “Thirty-nine percent of Democratic voters said they would agree with Obama if he were to issue a pardon to Snowden, compared with 38 percent who said that they would not. Among independents, 35 percent said they would support a pardon compared with 36 percent who wouldn’t.”
Since the question was phrased as support or opposition to President Obama issuing a pardon, rather than the notion of a pardon itself, the general Democrat reluctance to disagree with their incumbent President could play a significant role in that split support. If public opinion matters on this topic – and it doesn’t seem like it does, given the White House response – it would be better to ask the question without reference to a particular president.
If Snowden’s odds of a pardon from President Obama look bad, his chances of getting one from most of the Republican presidential contenders for 2016 seem even worse. For example, one of the candidates recently declared he would swiftly persuade Russian President Vladimir Putin to hand Snowden over: “If I’m president, Putin says ‘hey, boom – you’re gone,’ I guarantee you that” – at which time the GOP hopeful would “deal with him harshly.” The reader is invited to guess which one of them made these comments. Click here for the answer.