NSA Official Floats Amnesty For Snowden

If the leaker could show the data he took is contained

  • Share
  • Read Later
The Guardian / Getty Images

Edward Snowden in Hong Kong

The NSA official tasked with controlling the damage caused by Edward Snowden‘s intelligence leaks thinks that amnesty¬†for the former NSA contractor should be on the table.

Rick Ledgett told CBS’ 60 Minutes that allowing Snowden’s return to the United States is “worth having a conversation about” if Snowden could prove that the massive amounts of data he took are contained from further leaks.


“I would need assurances that the remainder of the data could be secured and my bar for those assurances would be very high,” Ledgett said in the interview that aired Sunday night. “It would be more than just an assertion on his part.”

Ledgett said he wants to contain Snowden’s most dangerous documents, which contain information on how countries can protect against U.S. surveillance. “It’s the keys to the kingdom,” he said.

(MORE: Edward Snowden, Runner-Up For TIME Person of the Year

But Gen. Keith Alexander, the NSA director, doesn’t agree. “This is analogous to a hostage taker taking 50 people hostage, shooting 10, and then say, ‘if you give me full amnesty I’ll let the other 40 go,’” Alexander said.

“I think people have to be held accountable for their actions,” he added. “Because what we don’t want is the next person to do the same thing, race off to Hong Kong and to Moscow with another set of data, knowing they can strike the same deal.”

Snowden himself has said he gave all his data to journalists, and no longer has any of it himself.