In a recent debate on Rethinking the U.S. National Security Apparatus, Michael Hayden, a retired general and the former director of the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency, said that Edward Snowden “blew the whistle” on the NSA’s use of the Patriot Act’s Section 215 to collect phone records of nearly every American. Hayden observed that while the government felt it had executive, legislative, and judicial approval to use 215 that way, the American people have not consented to this program and have been left out of that process.
Navi Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, has suggested the United States should drop its prosecution of Edward Snowden, because his revelations have served the public and launched an international debate about electronic surveillance. Earlier this year, the United States unsealed a criminal complaint against Snowden that includes multiple Espionage Act counts, each of which carries a ten-year prison sentence.
Speaking at the launch of a report into surveillance commissioned by the UN General Assembly as a direct consequence of Edward Snowden’s revelations, Pillay said that “those who disclose human rights violations should be protected, we need them.”
Tuesday 24 June saw Edward Snowden’s second appearance before the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. In April, he spoke to the assembly of Parliamentarians from 47 countries about mass surveillance. The topic of yesterdays’s session was improving protection of whistleblowers; reports on both subjects are being prepared for consideration by the Assembly before the end of the year.