Edward Snowden is Nemo, and he just wants to come home. The former NSA and CIA employee hinted in Wednesday night's interview with Brian Williams that Snowden's looking to cut a clemency deal with the U.S. government over and over again. Snowden didn't exactly come right out and say he'd accept a deal, but he repeatedly implied it. His tone throughout the interview was conciliatory, diplomatic, and careful. But he also emphasized that he thinks he did the right thing.
I may have lost my ability to travel, but I’ve gained the ability to go to sleep at night.
The one question from Williams that Snowden dodged was about when exactly he started taking documents from the government. He said it was "better not to get into in a news interview," but that he'd be "happy" to talk about it with the government.
In fact, Snowden made it sound like he'd be pretty happy to talk to the government about lots of things throughout the interview. Here are some of the things he said that make us think he's ready to negotiate.
1. He gave President Obama room to maneuver
When Williams asked Snowden what he'd say to President Obama if he had the chance, Snowden deliberately didn't take the bait.
I would leave advising the president to his advisor.
As for whether Obama should give him a break:
I think that’s a decision that he’ll weigh and decide based on what he believes would serve the public interest and I think that’s proper and appropriate.
2. He mentioned being in prison for a "short" time
Snowden said he wasn't looking to come home if he'd end up prison for the rest of his life, suggested that would set a bad example for other whistleblowers. But he hinted that he wouldn't be opposed to a "short period" in prison.
3. He said he did it for his country
Snowden stressed that he's a patriot.
I’m doing this for my country. ...I’m still working for the government.
4. He defended the NSA. No, really
During the interview, Snowden made pains to come across as levelheaded, and said people shouldn't go too far in blaming the NSA for everything. He specifically distanced himself from "conspiratorial thinking."
People have unfairly demonized the NSA to a point that’s too extreme. These are good people trying to do good work for good reasons.
But he added a big caveat:
Senior officials are investing themselves with powers that they’re not entitled to and they’re doing it without asking the public.
5. He said he didn't hurt anyone, and never meant to
Snowden said he was extremely intentional about not hurting anyone and went to great lengths to ensure no one was endangered by his disclosures, including making news organizations double-check with the government on every story to see whether there was a legitimate claim that the release of documents could cause someone direct harm.
If this has caused some serious harm I personally would like to know about it.
6. He talked about how much he wants to go home. A lot.
When asked what he misses about America, Snowden turned the question around on Williams: "What don't I miss?"
If I could go anywhere in the world that place would be home.
I miss my family. I miss my home. I miss my colleagues. I miss the work.
Well, regardless of whether or not Snowden cuts a deal with the government — NBC said Snowden's lawyers have been in contact with the U.S., but haven't gotten around to talking yet — we're pretty sure he won't be getting his old job back.
But he made it sound like he knew that when he decided to make the documents public.
I think it’s important to remember that people don’t set their lives on fire, they don’t say goodbye to their familes, they don’t walk away from their extraordinarily comfortable lives...and burn down everything they love for no reason.