NSA Officials Consider Granting Amnesty To Snowden

December 16, 2013 2:35 a.m.

National Security Agency officials still aren’t sure exactly what documents former contractor Edward Snowden took from the agency, but at least one official thinks offering him amnesty could stop him from leaking further intelligence.

Rick Ledgett, who runs the task force investigating Snowden’s leaks, said in a “60 Minutes” interview that aired Sunday he believes granting Snowden amnesty is “worth having a conversation about.” 

But Ledgett said he would first set a high bar for assurances from the fugitive that the documents he stole could be secured. The documents Snowden holds are the “keys to the kingdom,” he said, and were they to fall into the hands of a country like China or Iran it would be like giving those countries a “roadmap” to the U.S. intelligence community.

NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander strongly disagreed with the amnesty option. He told “60 Minutes” that if Snowden was offered amnesty, another would-be leaker could be empowered to flee with troves of data knowing they could strike a similar deal.

He went on to compare striking such a deal to negotiating with a hostage taker.

“This is analogous to a hostage taker taking 50 people hostage, shooting 10 and then say, ‘If you give me full amnesty I’ll let the other 40 go,'” Alexander said. “What do you do?”

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