(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.
break the law while you still can, folks.
Fields – the GOP has endorsed the Tea Party and they are dying. You are truly not in tune with America. The majority of America wants nothing to do with the Tea Party.
Boehner is the traitor. Snowden is a national hero. You can take that to the bank.
I am in strange agreement with Rand Paul. My approach is likely different. Since it isn't clear what questions if any Rand Paul has asked, here are mine: did he ask his superiors about this at all? Did he go to any member of Congress to ask about what could be done to make this less intrusive? What did he do to go up the chain of command before he went public?
He shouldn't be called a traitor just yet. He didn't name any covert operatives. I am sure that many people suspected that there clandestine operations looking at data on the internet.
Pot black, meet kettle. As though Boehner or most anyone else at his level have the credibility to claim who is or who is not a traitor. Few have put this country, and the world at large, in more peril. Snowden barely rates.
Deathstalker – this started under Bush. I am amazed at how many people did not know what was in the Patriot Act and still don't. The government can only monitor who calls go to and from if they have a reason to check and if they truly need to find out what is actually being said, they must present evidence to obtain a court order. Please get a grip people. I'm sure you can find the Patriot Act online.
Don't agree with Boehner on much, but he's right this time. But this is the result of the GO P spending the past 30 years making the government out to be the enemy.
Those who swear allegiance to people like Grover Norquist, or let ALEC write laws for them are the real traitors.
Boehner finally got it right. I am still waiting someone to tell me how a high school dropout got this job. Ron Paul is trying to look Presidential before the next election that is why he is having a Congressional hearing on EVERYTHING. Everyone thought the Barefoot Bandit was a hero going around the country stealing planes and boats until he stole from them. Who has this guy contacted in Hong Kong. There are still a lot of questions that need to be answered. Folks are a fool to think that we are on our computers all day and no one know what you are doing. We think nothing about being online to purchase a n item, submit a profile to one company and they sell our information to another third party we know nothing about. Folks get a life. They have been collecting our phone records since the caveman days and folks are not acting brand new to make a name for themselves.
The hell with both Democrats and Republicans. Had this happened under Bush, the Deathstalker74s of the world would have demanded this "kid" FRY, which shows you the utter hypocrisy.
The government agencies may be doing "legal" stuff and we are safe. The trouble is Washington is checked full of people who are not honest. So this information is supposed to be safe????
As General Howe considered his image back home more important than his British men during the American Revolution, the protagonist in the end was a General who lead scruffy farmers and mountain men to victory over the invaders. And today, the oligarchy is trying its best through John Boehner to justify the existence of a Government with no respect for its citizens, trying to justify surveillance to keep the bad guys in check.
The American people are not so naive....
The real traitor is the Boehner & his obstructionist GOP that he can't even control. He might be surprised to find his own emails & calls on record with the govt.!!
Our nation was founded by traitors. Boehner has just proven what a cowardly idiot he is.
What we need is a National Day of Protest, we close down the country for 1 day and I think the Congress will get the message.
Sen Rand Paul diminished his chances to be president. He is an embarassment to the Republican Party. Even Bachmann and Palin did not inflict such serious damage to the Republican brand.
I have nothing to hide and I am totally for them looking at my phone and internet records. We need to keep America safe and if this helps future events, I am good wth that.
What does Boehner call Mitch McConnell?
I take my clearance very seriously. I also know there are proper channels to lodge a complaint that does not violate my clearance. This moron caused more harm than good. People that think this is something new have oddly had blinders on. Much of this information has already been published. What is really the issue is that this guy claims he had "authority" to spy on any individual. No, there are rules. He had access to do this but like any other thing in life, you are bound by rules. You have the the ability to buy a gun and go kill people but you don't have the right to. This guy is naive and did something incredibly stupid. He knew full well what the ramifications of his actions would be and chose to defect to another country to avoid prosecution. He left his family, friends and the rest of America at risk because he had a temper tantrum. Now he has to pay for his crime. Rand Paul continues to destroy his political credibility by supporting this traitor as well. Amazing.
Snowden is a national hero. You can take that to the bank
...And do WHAT when you get there?
Sad, I thought Boehner was a decent american. I see I was wrong.
rand, take care of the massive welfare in your own state...idiot just like your dad.
So tired of people stating that there are "ways of exposing the truth", yet Snowden's was "wrong and treasonous". What other ways can a program of this secrecy be revealed, at the level of depth that the leak accomplished? There is no end in sight to the expansion of things like PRISM, and 20 years down the road you'll still have the rabble stating that "X person is revealing it the wrong way!"
And don't make me laugh at "wrong" and "treasonous" – there is no ethical justification of the state nor any of its machinations. There is a far greater case for treason committed by the state than any citizen, yet few realize it thanks to a monopoly of lawmaking (and also due to semantics).
We can all see how this "surveillance" worked with the boston marathon bombing.
I was horrified at the government intrusion under the previous occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (anyone else remember him telling mailmen, cable guys, plumbers, etc to snoop while they were conducting business at customer's homes and to report any "suspicious activity"?) and I'm just as horrified today, but this is nothing new and to blame the current administration is laughable at best. Congress should have driven a stake throug the heart of the Patriot Act years ago, but they just keep renewing it.