(CNN) - Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said Thursday the revelation that the U.S. National Security Agency spies on foreign government officials should come as no surprise.
But, she added, Edward Snowden’s leak of details on the controversial spying program has been “very, very damaging” to US interests.
“What [Snowden] has done is a criminal act and it has hurt us very, very badly,” Albright said Thursday at a forum sponsored by the liberal-leaning Center for American Progress.
Albright stressed that Snowden’s leaks have made life particularly difficult for the current Secretary of State, John Kerry.
“All of a sudden [Kerry is] confronted with something. He may not even know the particular thing that has just come out, and then all of a sudden it hits,” Albright said, explaining that the breach in trust is particularly harmful during private negotiations that are crucial to reaching agreements with foreign governments.
Albright defended the U.S. government’s actions, arguing that policymakers were trying to strike an appropriate balance in the post-9/11 world.
“Countries spy on each other,” Albright said. She recounted a time at the United Nations when a French ambassador confronted her about private remarks she had made.
“They had an intercept. It isn’t exactly as if this is new,” Albright said.