This has been a big week when it comes to the consequences of revelations about the National Security Agency's surveillance program. A federal judge ruled that the agency's program, which collects information on nearly all telephone calls made to, from or within the United States, is likely unconstitutional.
And a panel commissioned by President Obama came up with 46 recommendations in a report addressing that same collection of phone data by the NSA.
Both events come nearly six months after former Booz Allen Hamilton NSA contractor Edward Snowden spilled the beans about what the government has been doing when it comes to surveillance since 9/11, and the upheaval has been dramatic, both domestically and overseas.
Snowden currently resides in Russia, where he has been granted asylum until the middle of next year. Last week he wrote an "open letter to the people of Brazil" in which he wrote, "Until a country grants permanent political asylum, the U.S. government will continue to interfere with my ability to speak."
But Colorado Democratic Senator Mark Udall, who praises Snowden, told ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos on Sunday that Snowden ought to come back to the U.S. and "make his case."
When asked if that meant he believed he should deal with likely felony charges for leaking classified secrets, Udall said he did. "He broke his oath. He broke the law. Come home, make the case that somehow there was a higher purpose here, but Edward Snowden ought to come back to the U.S."
Udall said that, thanks to Snowden, the concerns that he and his colleague Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) have expressed for years about NSA overreach are finally gaining an audience.
The advisory panel commissioned to look into U.S. electronic surveillance activities recommended last week removing the NSA's authority to collect and store Americans' telephone data.
"Finally our point of view has been affirmed, and it's now time to really fundamentally reform the way in which the NSA operates. The president's panel made that very, very clear," Udall said.
On that same program, House Intelligence Commissioner Mike Rogers (R-Michigan) said that Snowden committed treason this week with his letter to Brazil.
"He has traded something of value for his own personal gain that jeopardizes the national security of the United States. We call that treason. And I think that letter — I think very clearly lays out who this gentleman is and what his intentions were clearly. And so would I like him to come back? He should come back. He didn't use any of the whistleblower protection avenues laid out before him. None. Zero."
Over on CBS' Face the Nation, Michael Morell, a former CIA deputy director and member of the panel reviewing the NSA, was very explicit in stating what the agency is NOT doing. "The NSA is not spying on Americans," he insisted. "I think that is a perception that is somehow out there...we're not focused on any single American...it is focused on metadata for one purpose only, and that is to make sure foreign terrorists aren't in contact with anybody in the United States."
Rick Ledgett, the man in charge of the Snowden task force at the NSA, told CBS' 60 Minutes that the possibility of amnesty for Snowden was "worth having a conversation about." The White House has said they don't agree with that idea, and neither does Morell. "He violated the trust put in him by the U.S. government, he has committed a crime in my view. A whistleblower does not run."