Holder Tells Russia Snowden Won’t Face Torture or Death, But Does U.S. Record Undermine Its Pledge? — Democracy Now Video

The Obama administration has assured Russia that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden will not be executed or tortured if he is sent back to the United States. In a letter to his Russian counterpart, Attorney General Eric Holder said Snowden does not face the death penalty and would not even if charged with additional crimes. Holder said his assurances eliminate the grounds for Snowden’s asylum bid in Russia and said the United States is prepared to issue him a passport valid for returning to the United States. “It’s sad that the U.S. has to [promise] it won’t torture people or kill, but in fact it’s meaningless,” says Michael Ratner, president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights and a lawyer for WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange. “It’s not necessarily enforceable by Snowden, but even more importantly, think about how the U.S. defines torture. The U.S. doesn’t really think that anything it did under the Bush era was torture, with the exception possibly of waterboarding. So that means Snowden can be subjected to every enhanced interrogation techniques — lights on all the time, loud noise, cold temperatures, hot temperatures, strapped into a chair. Second, it doesn’t say anything in the letter we won’t put him into some underground cell and keep him there the rest of his life.”