(CNN) – Republicans on Capitol Hill offered differing assessments Tuesday of the ex-CIA employee who leaked top secret documents detailing the American government's surveillance activities to the Guardian newspaper.
"He's a traitor," House Speaker John Boehner said bluntly on ABC's "Good Morning America," adding he thought Edward Snowden's leaks had put Americans at risk.
"The president outlined last week that these are important national security programs that help keep Americans safe and give us tools that help fight the terrorist threat we face," Boehner said. "The disclosure of this information puts Americans at risk. It shows our adversaries what our capabilities are. And it's a giant violation of the law."
Boehner's remarks echo the thoughts of Rep. Peter King, a Republican member of the House Homeland Security Committee who said on CNN Monday Snowden was a "defector."
"He knows who our intelligence assets are, who our intelligence agents are around the world, and the fact he has allowed our enemy to know what our sources and methods are is extremely dangerous," the New York Republican said on CNN's "Starting Point." "I think he should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I consider him right now to be a defector."
But Boehner and King's fellow Republican, Sen. Rand Paul, was milder in his assessment of Snowden, whose last known location was Hong Kong.
"I think it's a complicated issue. I think when people choose civil disobedience they're at their wit's end and think there's no other choice," Paul said on CBS "This Morning," noting he was working to change the laws that permitted the type of snooping Snowden revealed to the Guardian. Paul said Sunday he was considering suing the federal government over the seizure of phone and internet records.
"I'm reserving judgment on Mr. Snowden, but I think he felt like something like this was so wrong – millions of phone records being looked at," Paul said.
The Kentucky Republican was more measured in his stance than his father, former Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, who issued a statement Monday praising the leaker for exposing details of the U.S. surveillance programs.
Referring to Snowden and Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, Ron Paul wrote, "They have done a great service to the American people by exposing the truth about what our government is doing in secret."
Records show Snowden donated $500 to Ron Paul during the former congressman's bid for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, and in an interview with the Guardian said he voted for a third-party candidate in last year's contest.
There are ways of exposing the truth. The way Mr. Snowden went about it was wrong and treasonous. By no means is the shredding of pieces of the Constitution in exchange for security good policy. If Mr. Snowden wanted to expose the weaknesses of the NSA, he should have went through his chain of command. But even then, it's almost the same issue that we're having within the military regarding sexual assaults. How can you trust people within the chain of command to report these abuses?
The hell with both Democrats and Republicans. Had this happened under Bush, the Progressives would have hailed this kid as a hero, which shows you the utter hypocrisy. And then you have the war-hawk branch of the Republicans like Bohner and Rove, who are all about infringement of rights in the name of "homeland protection". We just saw how the government manipulates information for political gain in the IRS scandal and in the FOX / AP reporter scandal. Now we find out that that same government has been retaining records of ALL our calls and emails – even those not suspected of crimes. If ever there were a reason to ditch BOTH parties and vote Libertarian, this is it.
Both Democrats and Republicans are agreeing Snowden is a traitor. They know the serious risks to U.S. National Security these leaks present to All Of Americans!
Pure and simple, every keystroke, cell phone conversation, text message, and online video chat gets recorded and saved by the NSA.
That is police intelligence. And it is a violation of both the 4th amendment and the privacy rule derived from the 14th Amendment.
And one thing no one really mentions is that we are being compelled to pay for this.
Leave it to Boehner to think someone is a traitor for exposing an over reaching government. Stop doing sketchy things and you won't get called out. Beside I thought the GOP was against an over reaching government. Not really, only when it comes to telling the truth.
Libertarians have already made their opinions known on this matter.
"He's a hero." Case in point, Snowden is a Rand Paul supporter.
"I think it's a complicated issue. I think when people choose civil disobedience they're at their wit's end and think there's no other choice," Paul said on CBS "This Morning," noting he was working to change the laws that permitted the type of snooping Snowden revealed to the Guardian. Paul said Sunday he was considering suing the federal government over the seizure of phone and internet records."
In Rand Paul's little world, selling classified National Security information to the highest bidder - in this case, China - is a test of civil disobedience?
Rand Paul is NOT presidential material. Not today. Not ever.
Well Republicans. You voted for him. Enjoy watching him show yall why you shouldn't have.
Hey, finally I can agree with Boehner on something.
Wow, you all are drinking the Kool-aid, aren't you. Your fundamental rights have been violated, and you are just sheep listening to everyone call this hero a traitor.
What bothers me is he worked for a private company; Booz. Booz confirmed he did NOT have top secret security clearance, and that the NSA did NOT require clearance. This is incredibly stupid from a Government that says: "Trust us."
If what he says is true, I know the United States is taking a wring turn.
That's why he voted for a third party. He does not agree with both democrats and republicans.
They passed a bill that allowed this years ago. Didn't anyone read it? Doesn't anyone remember when this scandal broke over 6 years ago? Why is anyone surprised? Good freaking grief.
Snowden is traitor and profiteer. Do you think he won't be paid handsomely for his crimes against america? ...let me tell you about some prime beach front property I have in Arizona.
Another Republican showing what "smaller, less intrusive government" really means to a Republican.
I'd say Boehner & all the other Senators & congressmen who are voting away our rights are the traitors. They are going to do their best to deflect any responsibility & call whistleblowers criminals but they are all eroding our rights & freedom bit by bit. It is time to speak up and elect representatives who have courage. Not these cowards.
The only thing for certain is,no one person knows everything that our government is doing at anytime!! In the age ofiinformation,much mis-information exists. Our liberties are the foundation of our way of life. This whole scenario has been gone thru in past times and will be gone thru in the future again. Time and only time will give the answer to who and what this man is.
If you really want to secure the nation, expel the foreign invaders and people who gained access to this country via visas and refugee status....The sleeper cells are here and living in our neighborhood...
We Republicans need to get on the right side on this....and the right side is not the side of the President and the NSA. This is a golden opportunity for us to prove that we care about limiting government out of principle...not because of politics. Boehner is shooting us in the foot, and he needs to stop it. The Reagan "Security at all Costs" Republicans are gone, and the GOP needs to embrace the Tea Party...or die.
Through the chain of command?
You've got to be kidding.
really because I look at every politician that wants to monitor every american 24/7/365 as the traitor.
Sorry John, but an awful lot of us current and recently "past" republicans see the republicans in congress as traitors.
the progressives are behind him . The American people are he ones at risk. Great place to hide China. What a looser 3 months on the job and he has decided the government is out to get us. Wonder how much his spy stuff is worth to china? just saying
He should be tried for treason and executed if found guilty.