"And I don’t understand why he couldn’t have been part of the debate here at home. He could have quit. He could have taken whistleblower protection. He could have said you know there’s some things going on that I am concerned about and I want to talk about it…"
-- Hillary Clinton
No, he couldn't taken whistleblower protection because the protection does not apply to disclosure of U.S. classified information. The manual for Standard Form 312, the agreement not to disclose classified information, makes this point very clear. Anyone who wants to check this can read the manual, which is freely available on the Internet.
There would have been no way Snowden could have brought his allegations to Congress or anyone else without violating the terms of SF-312, which he had signed even before he became an NSA contractor. He only would have been able to speak in the vaguest terms about the situation he uncovered -- not enough to convey what he'd learned. He would have had to reveal classified information to explain the situation.
There are no exceptions -- I repeat NO EXCEPTIONS -- made for people who violate the agreement, not even for whistleblowers.
Signing SF 312 is just like jumping out of a plane while you're wearing a parachute. Once you've jumped, you can't change your mind. This is why the manual gets down on its tummy to explain to the reader that if he thinks that at some point after signing the agreement that his conscience might dictate that he violate it, DO NOT SIGN THE FORM.
This is why Members of Congress and others with positions prescribed in the U.S. Constitution are the only people handling U.S. classified information who are exempt from signing SF-312. See Question 4 in the Q&A section of the 312 manual. But for Snowden to have revealed classified information to Congress would have put him in violation of SF-312.
Why, then did Clinton claim that Snowden could have had whistleblower protection? One explnation would be that she simply lied and hoped no one would check her statement.
Another explanation would be that she didn't read the manual for SF-312 closely before she signed the form, which was when she became U.S. Secretary of State. That would raise the question of how many and what kind of other manuals Clinton didn't read or read closely when she went to work at State. Such as the manual on exactly what to do if staff in a foreign country alert you that their facility is under armed attack.
There is a third explanation, and this one worries me most. It could be that Clinton doesn't believe that rules, and the realities they represent, apply to her.
I heard yesterday that The Huffington Post's Arianna Huffington said on Queen Latifah's TV talk show that there is "special place in hell for women who don't support other women."
I assume this was Huffington's way of reminding American women to vote Hillary Clinton for President. But there is an even more special place in hell. This is reserved for U.S. government employees who don't bother to read government-issue manuals closely or think the manual isn't talking to them.