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(Image: ACLU/with overlay)

Calling for Prosecution of Its Own Source, Washington Post Slammed for 'Towering Cowardice'

Prominent newspaper received Pulitzer for reporting on NSA programs leaked by Edward Snowden — Now they want him locked him away for it

Jon Queally

Shocked by the "towering cowardice" of the Washington Post's Sunday editorial calling for Edward Snowden to be prosecuted, journalist Glenn Greenwald led the charge against the prominent newspaper for achieving what he described as an "ignoble feat" in American history: being "the first-ever paper to explicitly editorialize for the criminal prosecution of its own paper’s source – one on whose back the paper won and eagerly accepted a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service."

Published just two days after Oliver Stone's biopic on the NSA whistleblower, 'Snowden,' premiered in U.S. theaters and following the launch of a national campaign by human rights groups and privacy advocates calling for him to be pardoned, the timing of the WaPo editorial—simply titled "No pardon for Edward Snowden"—emerged as an unexpected (and unwelcome) salvo from a paper whose news editors and journalists played a central and early role in reporting on the information provided.

Greenwald, who along with the Washington Post's Barton Gellman and filmmaker Laura Poitras, was among the first journalists to engage with Snowden and report on key NSA mass spying programs previously kept secret from the U.S. and global public, responded to the editorial in scathing fashion. According to Greenwald:

what makes today’s Washington Post editorial so remarkable, such a tour de force, is that the editors are literally calling for the criminal prosecution of one of the most important sources in their own newspaper’s history. Having basked in the glory of awards and accolades, and benefitted from untold millions of clicks, the editorial page editors of the Post now want to see the source who enabled all of that be put in an American cage and branded a felon. That is warped beyond anything that can be described.

On Twitter, Snowden chimed in on his own behalf:

Last week, various groups launched the #PardonSnowden campaign which include a petition for people who want to add their support for the call.

"Snowden’s actions, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting that followed," the petition reads, "set in motion the most important debate about government surveillance in decades, and brought about reforms that continue to benefit our security and democracy."

That argument, however, appears inadequate for the Washington Post editorial board, which argued  that Snowden's "revelations about the agency’s international operations disrupted lawful intelligence-gathering, causing possibly 'tremendous damage' to national security, according to a unanimous, bipartisan report by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. What higher cause did that serve?"

In addition to Greenwald's detailed take-down of the Post's argument, critics of the newspaper were unsparing on social media:


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'We Need Action': Biden, Democrats Urged to Protect Abortion Access in Post-Roe US

"The Supreme Court doesn't get the final say on abortion," Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Tina Smith wrote in a new op-ed.

Kenny Stancil ·


Motorist 'Tried to Murder' Abortion Rights Advocates at Iowa Protest, Witnesses Say

Although one witness said the driver went "out of his way" to hit pro-choice protestors in the street, Cedar Rapids police declined to make an arrest.

Kenny Stancil ·


'A Hate Crime': Oslo Pride Parade Canceled After Deadly Shooting at Gay Bar

A 42-year-old gunman has been charged with terrorism following what Norway's prime minister called a "terrible and deeply shocking attack on innocent people."

Kenny Stancil ·


'We WILL Fight Back': Outrage, Resolve as Protests Erupt Against SCOTUS Abortion Ruling

Demonstrators took to the streets Friday to defiantly denounce the Supreme Court's right-wing supermajority after it rescinded a constitutional right for the first time in U.S. history.

Brett Wilkins ·


80+ US Prosecutors Vow Not to Be Part of Criminalizing Abortion Care

"Criminalizing and prosecuting individuals who seek or provide abortion care makes a mockery of justice," says a joint statement signed by 84 elected attorneys. "Prosecutors should not be part of that."

Kenny Stancil ·

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