(Ferenstein Wire) – At the first Democratic Presidential Debate, we learned there is at least one consensus belief among all the presidential candidates: whistleblower Edward Snowden should be punished.
Ever since Snowden leaked secrets about the National Security Agency’s mass surveillance operations, Americans have been torn about whether he should be punished as a criminal or welcomed home as a hero. Polling indicates that young people, especially, believe he has done more harm than good. (57% of young respondents believe he served the public interest.)
However, even young voters are evenly divided as to whether he should be punished for leaking the data. It is well known that hawkish Republicans are outraged at the leaks and that Hillary Clinton has generally followed President Obama’s harsh stance against people like Snowden (saying he aided terrorists).
But even Clinton’s upstart anti-war challenger, Bernie Sanders, came out in favor of punishment last night.
“I think Snowden played a very important role in educating the American public,” said Sanders. However, he then noted, “I think there should be a penalty to that.” Sanders added, “But I think that education should be taken into consideration before the sentencing.”
One Democratic candidate, Lincoln Chafee, did say he did not want to punish Snowden, but he has been polling rather low–sometimes less than 1%.
On the Republican side, even noted libertarian and NSA arch-nemesis Rand Paul, said he wanted to put both Edward Snowden and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper in the same jail cell.
Snowden, despite being unpopular with candidates, has been a smash hit on social media. After opening up an official Twitter account, he said that he accidentally received 47 gigs of email alerts after news went viral that he had the ability to directly communicate with the outside world, without an intermediary.
So there are some bipartisan issues in a heated presidential race. It’s somewhat surprising, given the American people’s own lack of consensus. Either way, Snowden is out of luck next November.
*For more stories like this, subscribe to the Ferenstein Wire newsletter here.
Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.