Boehner calls Snowden a traitor; Rand Paul 'reserving judgment'
June 11th, 2013
09:50 AM ET
2 years ago

Boehner calls Snowden a traitor; Rand Paul 'reserving judgment'

(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.


Filed under: John Boehner • NSA • Rand Paul
soundoff (383 Responses)
  1. WillB

    It also shows that the Constitution does not apply unless, a bureaucrat or a political hack say it does. If they say it doesn't they have to hide that from the public, but that's how business is done in Washington.

    June 11, 2013 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  2. Aaron

    How can someone be a traitor for pointing out something that is illegal and unconstitutional?

    June 11, 2013 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  3. duckie

    Call him what you wish boehner, I call him a hero. People like him keep psychopaths like you under control.

    June 11, 2013 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  4. HenryMiller

    Only people who want the American government to be allowed to go on spying on Americans will call Snowden a "traitor."

    June 11, 2013 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  5. kevin in VA

    Pot calling the kettle black

    June 11, 2013 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  6. Alex

    To call someone a traitor is to say that they have aided the enemy. The vast majority of people who "benefit" from this knowledge are normal Americans. Is that to say that the enemy Snowden has aided is...us?

    June 11, 2013 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  7. Mark

    I do not see him as traitor or hero; this more appropriately falls under whistleblower – and seems to be very, very naive; does anyone really think this is going to stop PRISM? dont count on it. These programs will continue, just as their predecessors likely did. Generally though I do not believe they do anything to protect Americans.

    June 11, 2013 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  8. Canada

    It's okay America, We here in Canada just found out our government is doing this too... now here's the real kicker... we all, whether we like to admit it or not already knew our governments were doing this. but the fact that they look at people who tell us what our Governments are doing as traitors is disgusting and does equate to a massive abuse of power. now we all now know that our Governments are monitoring us, how does that change our national security? their still going to be monitoring us, now we just know about it for sure. (something that should've been disclosed from the get go.)

    June 11, 2013 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  9. Tom Snowden

    Yeah, I'm real happy about the likes of Boehner being privy to classified information no less my own personal information. Talk about traitors...

    June 11, 2013 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  10. Canada

    Canada thanks you Snowden! you brought to light these abuses here in Canada too!

    June 11, 2013 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  11. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    Octavus

    The republic is lost. Most do not care. The masses are indifferent. Patriots are condemned as traitors. I'm ashamed of my nation and my fellow Americans.
    ----------------------------------------------–
    Making our SECRETS known to the public is NOT patriotic. It's TREASON!!! Mr. Snowden did knowingly or unknowingly put U.S. personnel at risk. Now that this information is public, who's to say that some other low level person at the NSA won't attempt to do what Mr. Snowden explained?

    June 11, 2013 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  12. Anonymous

    The US is converting to Socialism.

    June 11, 2013 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  13. john1960

    How do you think these government agencies find the bad guys, buy reaching into their pockets and pulling out some mysterious dust and the bad guys magically go to jail. Get with reality, this is how its done. Hes a traidor.

    June 11, 2013 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  14. Joe

    The government officials who are treating our citizens with such contempt and distrust... these are the traitors.

    June 11, 2013 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  15. really...

    How many liberties must we give up in the name of "preserving our freedoms"? What freedoms may I pursue under constant surveillance? What if the freedoms I pursue no longer agree with the templates created by those who are watching me? The idea of keeping us all under "potential" surveillance in order to advance the "war on terror" is ludicrous. Terrorism is a tactic. A means to an end. It's the targeting of non-military populations to endorse an idea or influence an outcome. We cannot successfully stage a war against an idea or tactic. The Thought Police have always been real to some extent, but now they have massive technology, and apparently we are all potential offenders. Remember, thought precedes terrorism, so don't get caught thinking!

    June 11, 2013 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  16. joe

    time will tell. but the first thing they need to look at is our constitution.

    June 11, 2013 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  17. jake1969

    Mark
    "Why is this guy any different than the Wikileaks guy? I don't see what Eric revealed was really that earth shattering. We tend to view government as Big Brother anyway. I think Snowden's motives are more self-serving than is being portrayed. I think he has a grandiose image of himself, egocentric and is hoping for a guest spot on Oprah."

    I couldn't agree more. Nothing he's "revealed" seems to be a surprise to anyone who's paid attention for the last 10-20 years (remember Operation Echelon way before the Patriot Act?). He's even spouted off some nonsense that simply isn't true. He's out for attention. I'm more concerned someone like this could land a contract job with NSA than I am over the fact the government is doing something that I knew it was doing. I'm not surprised by the snooping, I'm waiting to see cases of abuse...when and if that happens, then I'll vote accordingly and the abusers will certainly be called out.

    June 11, 2013 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  18. uconj

    worksfor me you are traitor you believe in a gov that lies to us, head of nsa addmits to telling us untrue statements, susan rice gets caught lieing n gets promoted, hilooory clinton said she never got info on bengazi but ambassador was asking for help for months and shes going to run for pres. seem to me you might better open your eyes n quit running your mouth cuz its obvious your kind of people are very misled. cnn you print bogus truths

    June 11, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  19. aj

    Remember you formed a government to protect you from foreign and "domestic" enemies. I really don't see a big deal. Yeah I get it - civil liberty is a big deal. And so is loss of life. Knock on wood nothing like Sept 11/2011 attacks ever happen again, but maybe it should so it should remind you folks of how dangerous it is to have your own US citizen revealing its secret to the world.

    June 11, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  20. bluepig45

    No, he is not a traitor. A traitor turns over national secrets to the enemy. He turned over information of spying by the government against law-abiding citizens, which is exposing treason. But in the eyes of the actual traitors (Obama and Boehner) they see the American people as the enemy, so you can understand why they would call Snowden as a traitor. Plus he (Snowden) is an embarrassment to the power elite, because he showed how prolific the government attacks against freedoms actual are.

    June 11, 2013 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  21. aj

    Correction:

    Remember you formed a government to protect you from foreign and "domestic" enemies. I really don't see a big deal. Yeah I get it – civil liberty is a big deal. And so is loss of life. Knock on wood nothing like Sept 11/2001 attacks ever happen again, but maybe it should so it should remind you folks of how dangerous it is to have your own US citizen revealing its secret to the world.

    June 11, 2013 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  22. Dude Love

    Boehner is a traitor.

    June 11, 2013 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  23. Guest

    If Snowden is telling the truth, he is a hero and great American.

    June 11, 2013 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  24. jake1969

    Joe
    "The government officials who are treating our citizens with such contempt and distrust... these are the traitors."

    Get a grip, clear to point to a single case of abuse with all this surveillance that's been going on for quite a while? Our government, whether clumsy or right on this or not, is trying to protect the population, there is no sign of ill intent against the public due to no cases of abuse. Kind of a shame when our country gets attacked on the scale of 9/11, then government reacts, maybe overreacts, to prevent future attacks...and all the tools come out calling them evil. In the end, your vilifying the very folks trying to keep you from getting bombed. Kind of a shame. Fine if we don't like snooping, let the courts decide its constitutionality (2 Bush programs already got thrown out)...but let's take a breath and not assume our government's intent is pure evil here.

    June 11, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  25. Cam

    Nobody respects Boehner because he never stand up for civil liberties. He is in the elite political club of the left and right who only care about themselves but have complete distain for the "serfs." Same with Harry Reid who once referred to the public visiting the WH as "smelly tourists."

    June 11, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
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