WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 28: U.S. Attorney General William Barr testifies before the House Judiciary Committee in the Congressional Auditorium at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center July 28, 2020 in Washington, DC. In his first congressional testimony in more than a year, Barr faced questions from the committee about his deployment of federal law enforcement agents to Portland, Oregon, and other cities in response to Black Lives Matter protests; his role in using federal agents to violently clear protesters from Lafayette Square near the White House last month before a photo opportunity for President Donald Trump in front of a church; his intervention in court cases involving Trump's allies Roger Stone and Michael Flynn; and other issues. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Source:  Tim Pearce

Attorney General William Barr would be “vehemently opposed” to any push by President Trump to pardon Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor charged with leaking classified information.

Snowden is a “traitor” that jeopardized the national security of the United States, Barr told the Associated Press on Friday. Snowden is currently evading prosecution by staying in Russia where he has been granted asylum.

“He was a traitor and the information he provided our adversaries greatly hurt the safety of the American people,” Barr said. “He was peddling it around like a commercial merchant. We can’t tolerate that.”

Trump said on Aug. 15 that he was considering pardoning Snowden and allowing the former national security specialist to return to the United States without the threat of prosecution. The announcement was a surprise and contradicted Trump’s stated position in 2013 that Snowden is “a spy who should be executed.”

“Well I’m going to look at it,” Trump said during an Aug. 15 press conference. “I mean, I’m not that aware of the Snowden situation, but I’m going to start looking at it. There are many, many people. It seems to be a split decision. There are many people think that he should be somehow treated differently, and other people think he did very bad things.”

“And I’m going to take a very good look at it. I mean, I’ve seen people that are very conservative and very liberal and they agree on the same issue. They agree both ways,” Trump said.

Snowden is responsible for leaking information on an NSA intelligence gathering operation called PRISM. The program, created to aid U.S. intelligence officials in locating and tracking terrorists, collected the meta-data from millions of Americans’ phone calls. The meta-data collected included such information as call times, durations, and other info not specific to what transpired during the actual phone call.

Critics of PRISM, Snowden among them, said that the NSA was infringing on the civil rights of every American whose data was collected for no better reason than they had used a cell phone. Snowden leaked details of the plan to journalists in 2013 before fleeing the United States to Hong Kong, then to Russia.

As The Daily Wire reports:

Snowden leaked the information to American journalists, using members of WikiLeaks’ team as go-betweens, back in 2013, revealing that the NSA was collecting “meta-data” – location, duration, and other information not specific to calls themselves – from Americans’ cellphones, creating a massive database designed to reveal terror threats.

The PRISM program never really yielded results. According to most recent reports, although the Trump administration, like the Obama administration before it, has routinely re-authorized the program, the bulk data collection and analysis program was too cumbersome to be valuable. Back in 2019, the program fell into disuse according to The New York Times and, at this point, appears to be out of operation.