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Rand Paul and Edward Snowden Will Speak at the Same Conference this Weekend

Libertarian kremlinology, literally.
Audience members applaud as former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor turned whistleblower Edward Snowden is seen on a video conference screen during an award ceremony for the Carl von Ossietzky journalism prize on December 14, 2014 in Berlin, Germany.

Audience members applaud as former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor turned whistleblower Edward Snowden is seen on a video conference screen during an award ceremony for the Carl von Ossietzky journalism prize on December 14, 2014 in Berlin, Germany.

Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images

On Saturday night, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul will give a video address to the International Students For Liberty Conference in downtown Washington, D.C. One night earlier, self-exiled whistleblower Edward Snowden—who has a little less mobility inside the United States than Paul—will address ISFL "via videoconference," according to organizers. Paul has consistently spoken out on behalf of Snowden, calling his actions "civil disobedience," and saying that if Snowden faced justice he should "share a jail cell" with Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Not every potential 2016er could appear on the same virtual dais as Snowden. Paul will be right at home.

"There seems to be a generational divide in opinion on Snowden, with young people more broadly supportive of his conduct," says Alexander McCobin, the president of Students For Liberty. "I think it's largely a result of young people having a different worldview these days, one that emphasizes individual empowerment and skepticism of the efforts of long-established institutions reforming themselves." (Disclosure: McCobin interned at Reason magazine when I was a reporter there.)