By Joe Mathieu, WBZ NewsRadio 1030

BOSTON (CBS) – No one knows if Edward Snowden will ever come back to the U.S., but if he did he would likely face the most serious charges.

Treason is a big deal. It means life in prison or worse.

But it may not be that simple because Washington cannot seem to agree on what to do.

Some think Snowden is a traitor and should pay the ultimate price for compromising U.S. security.

Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday that Snowden did great damage to the country and should “man up” and face the music.

But others, like libertarian-leaning Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), see it differently.

They think Snowden should face a lighter penalty because, while he broke the law, they say he exposed government abuse and was, in fact, acting as a patriot in the name of the people.

That is, of course, what Snowden himself claims.

And isn’t that really what we’re talking about here?

How to define a patriot.

It’s a perennial question whether we’re talking about a war protestor or a whistleblower. And that is one of the things that make this country unique.

It’s entirely possible that Snowden will never return, even though he says he wants to.

But those who prefer a lighter punishment against him believe Snowden could be compelled to return on his own under a plea deal that would take the most harsh penalties off the table.

Short of that, the man may be globetrotting in exile the rest of his life.

Follow Joe on Twitter @joemathieuwbz



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