More broadly, Snowden’s case may clash with certain foreign policy goals. The United States often wants other countries’ dissidents to be able to find refuge abroad; this is a longstanding plank of its human rights agenda. The United States also wants illiberal regimes to tolerate online expression that challenges their authority; this is the core of its developing Internet freedom agenda.
Snowden’s prosecution may limit our soft power to lead and persuade in these areas. Of course, U.S. officials could emphasize that Snowden is different, that he’s not a courageous activist but a reckless criminal. But that is what the repressive governments say about their prisoners, too.
I know a lot of you are tired of this NSA stuff, but how to “deal” with Snowden is absolutely fascinating to think about. Every option that I see leaves the U.S. bruised in some way, as there seems to be no clear win-win scenario. Pozen’s article is a great read about some of the options for U.S. in dealing with Snowden.