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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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January 2nd, 2014
04:45 PM ET

Debate: Clemency for Edward Snowden?

(CNN) - The editorial boards of The New York Times and The Guardian are calling on the U.S. government to give former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden a pass, or at least a deal.

The Times board, generally a reliable supporter of the Obama administration, disagrees with the White House on Snowden, writing: "He may have committed a crime. ... But he has done his country a great service. It is time for the United States to offer Mr. Snowden a plea bargain or some form of clemency."

Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus says she does not believe Snowden should get clemency. Her recent column calls Snowden an "insufferable whistleblower."

"If Snowden really believes in the Constitution, he should have stuck around, tested the constitutional system, taken his punishment, argued that he was justified in the leaks that he did.

"He didn't. He just turned tail and fled the country," Marcus told CNN's "The Lead with Jake Tapper."

"Ruth Marcus' argument exemplifies everything that's horrible about the D.C. media," said Glenn Greenwald, investigative journalist for First Look Media. Greenwald broke news on the NSA, using data that Snowden gave to him.

"If (Snowden) had stayed in the United States, he would have been barred from making the very argument that she just said he should have made. Under the Espionage Act, you're not allowed to come into court, and say 'I was justified in disclosing this information.' There is no whistleblower exception in the Act, which is why they don't get justice in the United States," Greenwald told CNN's "The Lead with Jake Tapper."

For more of this feisty debate check out the video above. For the second part of Gleen Greenwald and Ruth Marcus' debate, click here, or watch the video below.

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