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The whistleblower deserves a chance to return home

President Barack Obama is rounding out his presidency of stellar achievements: ending the war in Iraq, legalizing gay marriage and pulling us out of the recession. He should add pardoning Edward Snowden to the list, too.

The government should grant the former CIA systems analyst a path back to the U.S. Although he did — willfully — release classified information to the public, Snowden revealed that the NSA was spying on millions of Americans without cause or necessity.

Live and let spy

I don’t want us to throw Snowden a parade or treat him like a war hero. I simply want the U.S. to give him a chance to live in the country that he obviously loves so much. I say this because I don’t consider love for a country and love for its government as inherently the same.

I also don’t really consider Snowden to be a revolutionary who hates his country.

Treason is no joking matter. Those who say he did it for fame and fortune should look at how seriously the government has taken the leak and how negatively Snowden has been affected.

Sure, there’s a new movie that is based on his life and the leak. He probably also has people knocking down his door with book deals and endorsement offers. But the reality is that he is a fugitive and, if captured, will be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

Snowden doesn’t deserve this. He made the only rational choice he could and risked his livelihood to reveal that the government had overexerted its power.

We have, over time, put a lot of trust into the government. To find out that they have been secretly spying on our phone records and gathering data from websites like Facebook is disturbing, to say the least.

Many conspiracy theorists jumped for joy on the day the information leaked because some of what they were saying were confirmed. Snowden didn’t just uncover a large spy ring — the information he released showed that the U.S. was a hyper-aware, ultra-paranoid entity that literally had eyes on everyone.

It isn’t even all about data collection. The NSA amassed over 200 million text messages from around the world daily through a program called Dishfire. They can also easily decode cellphone encryption, which means intercepting phone calls and data at will.

The NSA has also been using a program named XKeyscore to search almost everything a user does on the Internet with data it gathers from across the world.

The government’s ability to spy on almost anyone they choose, no matter how much security you have on your computer, can’t be understated. All of this was done without any prior authorization.

No win-win decision?

Snowden saw this and much more. He decided to act when others didn’t. He didn’t sell secrets to the Chinese or try to join ISIS. What he did was wrong according to law, but it was absolutely necessary to inform the public about what the government was doing.

People may wonder why Obama hasn’t given his usual ear-to-ear smile and already pardoned Snowden. The reason may be hard to swallow for those who love the charismatic commander in chief.

The government wasn’t just spying on Americans 20 years ago. This has been happening under the Obama administration, and most likely still continues today. Obama has said that the spy programs are put in place to help Americans and each one has different checks and balances to ensure they are not abused.

The latter turned out to be untrue.

By pardoning Snowden, the Obama administration would essentially admit to spying on millions of people across the country through many different and intricate methods.

The government admitting it did wrong is probably as likely as all six “Friends” being in the same room after the show’s finale. We all know that Matthew Perry’s character somewhat smeared the camaraderie with his behind-the-scenes drug addiction, but you don’t see any of the cast or crew pointing out the trouble.

Let’s just hope that, like Perry, Obama can admit that he and the government have a problem. The first step to take after admitting they have a problem is letting Edward Snowden back in the country.

It may not be the most popular decision among bureaucrats, but it will go a long way in showing that the government can admit to it’s wrongdoings and forgive a whistleblower.

Opinion editor Frank Campos is a media production senior and can be reached at [email protected]

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