Boehner calls Snowden a traitor; Rand Paul 'reserving judgment'
June 11th, 2013
09:50 AM ET
9 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. Blakbeatle

    Where, in the enumerated powers of the Federal Government, is the right to record every phone call (and let's face it folks) virtually every blog (including this one) in what was once known as "America"? Don't cite the Patriot Act, which is so obviously unconstitutional it begs credulity. This experiment in democracy is now failing on so many levels–in all the classic ways that history predicted. It is amazing to watch. Godspeed, Edward Snowdon, whatever your motives, you have brought light to a very dark place indeed.

    June 11, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  2. Joe Gerken

    To Electric52: Do you really think that there was probable cause to believe that every American citizen was planning to commit a felony every day for the past 10 years? Please take your medication.

    June 11, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  3. peter

    It is sad to see the people from a country that inspire many around the world to come forward speak against governments that overreach and deceive they people crucifying an american for doing just that. The government went in front of law makers and put on a show and promised that Americans was not being spied on, they said no records was kept and that they were transparent. A person guy comes out tell they are lying proves it, everyone wants to kill him because he is a traitor. who did he betray? The american people or the law makers that betray our trust?

    June 11, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  4. Scott

    Snowden is a hero, he just let all America know just how corrupt this Adminstration is. Boehner is no traitor to this country. The real traitor is Obama and his Gestapo.

    June 11, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  5. skione13

    Mr. Speaker – that's a case of calling the kettle BLACK!. You are a traitor sir, a traitor to this country for being an obstructionist, failing to pass any significant JOBS legilslation in a collaboration with either the Senate or Executive branch, failing to pay the governments bills on-time and holding the American Tax payer hostage by failing to do your job by even bringing the dysfunctional Republican party together in the House. All you've done is pass meaningless legislation trying to repeal the past instead of focusing on this countries future. For your treason against America – you should be impeached at a minimum and return your salary since 2010.

    June 11, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  6. Joe Gerken

    The real traitors are the congressmen and senators who kept this massive spying campaign secret from the American public for so long.

    June 11, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  7. sarabethany

    John Boehner calling someone a traitor. That's rich. This is the draft dodger who avoided Vietnam by claiming he had a bad back, then went on to quarterback 4 years for his college football team. He is a useless piece of chit who has done absolutely nothing for the American people all the time he has been in office. All he has done is line his own pockets and spew venom to divide our country. I have a lot of respect for Peter King and Rand Paul but CNN should stop quoting John Boehner. Even his constituents hate him.

    June 11, 2013 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  8. NorCalMojo

    Civil disobedience is not treason.

    Boehner is a dinosaur. The sooner the republicans oust the old guard, the better off they'll be.

    June 11, 2013 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  9. Wake up People!

    I can't believe Boehner pulled his head out of his behind long enough to realize it. Unfortunately it's the pot calling the kettle black. Boehner, you're a traitor also. You, Mitchie, Linds, you're all a bunch of traitors who should be applying for unemployment.

    June 11, 2013 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  10. lynndel

    Congress betryed the Constitution and US citizens by abusing their freedoms.

    June 11, 2013 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  11. Justin

    Boehner is a traitor. His GOP has done nothing but harm the country in the name of their politics. I don't care if John Boehner thinks the wiretapping is legal. I'm a US citizen and I don't want to be monitored. Maybe if we stopped giving Israel $20 Billion in aid each year, there wouldn't be a whole lot for muslims to hate about us. Address the problem, not the symptoms.

    June 11, 2013 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  12. Brian Smith

    Well, he is correct about this – "And it's a giant violation of the law." – The right to privacy is in the constitution, and this violates it.

    June 11, 2013 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  13. JL

    Not sure how this would hurt our security. If terrorists know we are illegal tapping everyone's phone, won't that make it more difficult for them to communicate? How many domestic terrorist plots have we stopped with this information anyway? I think they are using the info for other reasons. We let terrorists do what they want and conservatives and Christians get burned at the stake. Example: The CIA was warned of Tamerlan Tsarnaev and he was provided welfare and allowed to do as he pleased. Meanwhile tea partiers were profiled and suppressed by the IRS. This government is tyrannical. Plain and simple.

    June 11, 2013 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  14. JoeP

    This is confusing for the left. They want to vilify Snowden, but when you have Boehner calling Snowden a traitor, they don't know which way to vent.

    June 11, 2013 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  15. Anonymous

    This was not a secret...this was widely disclosed previously under Bush. Then. noboby said much. Now it's an issue...hmmm.

    June 11, 2013 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  16. Kevin

    99% of politicians are traitors to the American constitution. How dare they call someone else a traitor for revealing how THEY are trampling on the very fabric of the country

    June 11, 2013 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  17. Larry L

    @Joe Gerken

    The real traitors are the congressmen and senators who kept this massive spying campaign secret from the American public for so long.
    Think. The program wasn't a "campaign secret" and the program is legal under the Patriot Act. America can't run counter-terror operations if we publicize all of our operational tools. Do you really believe the American people must know every legal activity of the United States Government? How about the locastions of all of our submarines? Is that another "dirty little secret"?

    June 11, 2013 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  18. rs

    How exactly is Boehner a traitor??? He condemed a guy who leaked top secret US information to the world... against a law that has been on the books for, basically, 40+ years. And Boehner is a traitor???
    Mr. Boenher has been actively working against the best interests of American citizens.
    1. His Congresses have failed to pass one single solitary Job bill, yet they moan and roll their eyes at every mention of job growth in the US, or the unemployment rate saying they are too meager.
    2. Boehner and his Congresses have passed more anti-abortion, and anti-birth control bills than ever before in American History.
    3. They have symbolically voted to repeal the ACA 37 times.
    4. They have all sworn allegiance to anti-tax radical Grover Norquits (bankrupting America in the proess)
    5. They have protected the NRA, and promoted placing weapons in the hands of criminals, terrorists and the insane.

    They are- WORSE than the Taliban.

    June 11, 2013 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  19. M

    Anyone who actually believes that Snowden revealed anything that wasn't already suspected is a fool. All he did was offer proof of what we already really knew. Maybe this comes as a surprise to all the sleeping sheep out there, but anyone who has been paying attention since 9/11 isn't surprised in the least.

    In my view, the only reason these politicians are calling him a traitor is because he exposed what they've been doing to us for all these years. Confronted with that, they have no choice but to attack him.

    June 11, 2013 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  20. Steve in CT

    There are over 3 billion phone calls made in the USA every day. If you think the government is listening on your call to grandma, you are mistaken. If you are calling a number in the Middle East, then that number may be traced. This guy is a traitor and his actions may have a hand in the next terrorist attack.

    June 11, 2013 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  21. Alex in Wisconsin

    Ah, I understand now, behind every scandal, there is a conservative or libertarian. The gameplan is sabotage government and blame Obama and Clinton. From conservatives at the IRS giving the ok for extra scrutiny to tea party groups to fake email talking points leaking to ABC to a Paulbot releasing not so secret details of the NSA program to the public., these scandals are targeted and carefully presented to the media by those who hate President Obama.

    June 11, 2013 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  22. AreYouKidding?

    skione13, please get a dictionary and look up "treason" before further embarrassing yourself.

    June 11, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  23. Larry L


    This is confusing for the left.
    So you're saying the "right" didn't support the Patriot Act but does support a system allowing everybody with a top secret clearance to decide for themselves when the secret information should be released to the enemy.

    June 11, 2013 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  24. d

    The ones putting Americans at risk are the administration and their enablers in congress.

    June 11, 2013 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  25. Snarky MacFee

    As are you and your cohorts, Mr. Boehner.

    June 11, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
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