Popular vote conquerer and former Vice President Al Gore added his name to the list of top political figures who think Edward Snowden's revelations about NSA surveillance programs might outweigh his crimes. Speaking earlier on Tuesday at the Southland tech conference in his home state of Tennessee, Gore was asked the ye olde Snowden traitor-hero question.
After dispensing with the undeniable, namely that Snowden had broken the law, Gore deferred on designating Snowden either hero or traitor, adding that he would "would push it more away from the traitor side." Then came the red meat:
But what he revealed in the course of violating important laws included violations of the Constitution that were way more serious than the crimes he committed. In the course of violating important laws he also provided an important service because we did need to know how far this has gone."
Gore is not the first guy who was once at the top of the Democratic presidential ticket to lend Snowden's actions some support. Last year, former President Jimmy Carter offered that Snowden's actions were "beneficial" and echoed those remarks in March by declaring that he "would certainly consider pardon" if Snowden's damage to the American security apparatus were deemed minimal.
Michael Dukakis (FWIW) also seems to come down somewhere within the margins of the Carter-Gore spectrum. At a forum in Boston last year, he refused to condone Snowden's illegal act, but also said this:
I don’t know too many Americans, liberals and conservatives alike, who aren’t very concerned about this kind of intrusion into our private lives."
Former President Bill Clinton was a bit less forgiving, labeling Snowden "an imperfect messenger." However, Clinton also added that Snowden's work "has raised all of these questions about whether we can use technology to protect the national security without destroying the liberty, which includes the right to privacy, of basically innocent bystanders.”
For those keeping tabs, John Kerry, John McCain, George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, and Mitt Romney have either come out vociferously against Snowden or not said much about it at all.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.