techdirt.com
October 10, 2013

snowdenposterPlease hold your feigned shock until the end of the post, but the administration has yet to respond to the We the People petition to pardon Edward Snowden. Despite the fact that the petition cleared the (recently increased) 100,000 signature hurdle easily and with plenty of time to spare (it currently sits at 137,000), it still has not been addressed by the White House.

According to the spokeperson contacted by US News, the administration will get to it when it gets to it.

“Response times vary,” National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden told U.S. News in an email Friday, responding to a request for White House comment on the two-month [now three-month] delay. “We’re not in a position to comment on the substance of a response before it has been issued,” she added.

Nope, can’t comment on this one, not even nearly four months from the initial leak. But the White House hasn’t held off on commenting on other, more recent petitions, even those that fell severely short of the arbitrary 100,000-signature mark. It answered one on saving the Johnson Valley OHV area, even though it topped out at 29,500 signatures. It took time to offer its thoughts on protecting the rights of non-religious military members, something 24,393 signatories were concerned about. Fighting pediatric cancer? The administration bravely confronted this controversial issue head-on, even though less than 30,000 signatures were gathered.

Does “We the People” greatly resemble a masturbatorial excercise in talking points and easy wins? Yes, yes it does. And yet, the administration could have, at the very least, responded with a marginally-justified “no comment,” as it has in other highly-controversial cases.

However, it’s also possible for the administration to duck the issue by giving a response similar to the one used by White House spokesman Josh Earnest Wednesday on Bradley Manning’s 35-year prison sentence for providing documents to WikiLeaks. Manning has since self-identified as a woman, and is seeking recognition under the name Chelsea.

“I’m not going to get ahead of that process,” Earnest said. “If there is an application that’s filed by Mr. Manning or his attorneys, that application will be considered in that process like any other application.”

Considering the administration has charged Snowden with espionage and Obama himself has said he doesn’t consider him a hero, it seems unlikely that this will receive any consideration at all. If anything, the response will soft-peddle the administration’s angle and point at various legal rationales that justify punishing the whistleblower. It’s not that we don’t know the response (if it ever comes) will be jargon-heavy and unsatisfactory — it will — it’s the fact that the administration upped the signature limit simply to make it harder to receive a response, and yet it continues to ignore anything that clears the mark but it doesn’t want to deal with.


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