The recent release of a movie lionizing the exploits of government document leaker Edward Snowden is expected to bolster his supporters’ campaign for a presidential pardon. Not coincidentally, members of the House Intelligence Committee just released the executive summary of a report condemning the damage the leaks did to U.S. security. The committee members, Democrats and Republicans alike, also sent President Obama a letter opposing a pardon for Snowden.

Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor who in 2013 leaked huge amounts of information about NSA snooping on Americans and foreigners, has been hiding out in Russia. If he returns home, he faces charges of theft and espionage. He doesn’t deserve a pardon. But the government should negotiate a plea deal that allows him to come home. The government’s refusal to deal with him merely enhances the cult of personality.

The government security apparatus and those responsible for it love to vilify Snowden, partly because their indignation deflects attention from the violations of civil liberties that he exposed. Snowden was a whistleblower, not a traitor.

Our government, especially the military and security agencies, cultivate a culture of secrecy to cover up their mistakes and keep the public in the dark. The House Intelligence Committee prepared a 36-page synopsis on the damage Snowden’s leaks purportedly caused but released only a three-page executive summary, calling the rest classified. See what we mean?

In its letter to Obama, the House members said Snowden had “lawful avenues to express legal, moral or ethical qualms with U.S. intelligence activities.” That’s an exaggeration. Since 9/11, the government has done much to thwart people who asked too many questions.

Perhaps the government should bring Snowden home and see what suggestions he has for improving intelligence activities without violating Americans’ constitutional rights.