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. Rudy NYC

    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.
    Try reading your terms of use agreements with the phone companies and social web sites. It is not a crime when you agree to allow it to happen to you.

    June 11, 2013 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  2. Sam

    "Those who would sacrifice their liberty for security deserve neither." – someone important. Benj Franklin, maybe?

    June 11, 2013 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  3. Frank

    I think there is a third choice (other than Hero/Traitor). While he is brave for whistle-blowing a top secret program, he is also a traitor for illegally accessing and downloading the information. My opinion shifted when I found out that he was not working on that program and was basically just trolling secret files to find information. Not only that, it would be brave to confront his leadership or government leadership with the moral implications of the program it is an act of treason to take this information directly to the media.

    June 11, 2013 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  4. houbie

    call him a traitor, but either way the fact remains that if the NSA can't even secure their own employees, how can they protect us?

    June 11, 2013 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  5. Anonymous

    It could be according to his Constution . The one he believes has as it opening preamble "We hold these truths to be self evident ...". Of course the constitution of the United States of America begins, "We the people.....". So it is entirely possible that John Boehners Constitution makes Snowden a traitor.

    June 11, 2013 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  6. Diva$$

    AMERICANS, stop the madness. In our country we have freedom of speech, can go where we choose, vote for whom we choose, eat what we want and live our lives. Let us remember what happen on 911. In order for us to be safe our government must have the ability to monitor future terrorist (foreign or home grown). Do you think the government is looking and listening at what every American does? When secrets are turned over to others outside of the United States the safety of our people becomes at risk. We Americans should never risk our security because we don't want government involvement. 911 brought Americans together, people who take secrets and share with other countries will destroy our great nation. Snowden is no American Hero, he will get his 15 minutes of fame, but at what price to the American people. Remember China and other countries do not share their secrets and I am sure they listen in on phone calls and emails of those they are concerned about. If we don't remember the past we are doomed. :–(

    June 11, 2013 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  7. Sam

    The timing of this could have been better. An disclosure in the middle of 2014 could have virtually guaranteed Rand Paul a winning chance at the white house on a Libertarian ticket. Now the govt. will explain it away – or ignore it – the people will forget and we'll have another Republican or Democrat in the white house again. Dang.

    June 11, 2013 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  8. S. Holmes

    Mr. Boehner,

    If he's a traitor, then what does that make you and Mr. King and the rest of your hang em high club? Ms. Feinstein is a member of your select hang em high club too.

    Hey what's it like being in the Koch brother's back pocket? What's it feel like being paid for "services rendered?"

    This kid is a Patriot. You know, what you and the rest of your hang em high club are not and never will be.

    Now let me see, when was the last time you the Prez and the rest ever upheld the U.S. Constitution and weren't paid to do it or should I say bribed?

    You all make me want to up lunch. You disgust me.

    We have a 29 year old young man out there, with a medical problem, whose felt he couldn't go to people like you, becuase he knew you'd turn on him, who is Patrotic enough to have the wherewithall to at least try to protect the average American citizen and protect the U.S. Constitution at the same time? He liked Obama and what does our Prez do the first chance he gets, why he turns on him, just like you've turned on the American people. YOU'RE THE TRAITORS NOT MR. SNOWDEN

    June 11, 2013 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  9. Keith Wheeler

    Seriously? Not defending our constitutional rights in violation of your oathes of office is treason. Telling on a traitor, is not treason.

    June 11, 2013 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  10. J. Olver

    I don't often agree with the Speaker but he is right, Snowden is a traitor.

    June 11, 2013 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  11. Ron L

    What about JOBs, JOBs, JOBSs. or raising the minimum wage....

    June 11, 2013 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  12. AZ Girl

    Sorry folks, you gave away the right to complain about your privacy being invaded when you cheered and supported the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act (aka USA PATRIOT Act of 2001). These actions have been going on for almost 12 years. You lose ALL your rights if you are brought in under this act. Why do you think Gitmo is full after so long of time with very few trials?? Because THEY CAN and do lose rights afforded under the Constitution. Same here. They have been LEGALLY collecting data about YOU for years.

    Is he a traitor? Yes, because he KNEW the info he was giving was top secret and only accessible to certain levels. Why else did he have to hack it? He gave away YOUR govts secrets and you want to call him a hero? Wow.

    June 11, 2013 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  13. talis4

    The road to tyranny will not come in a cataclysmic moment. It will arrive step by step with mindless sheep cheering each move that chips away at our freedom. Many of these comments attest to that. Snowden is a patriot. If not for him, we would not be aware of the length to which the 4th amendment has been eviscerated. Where are the right wing mor0ns when you need them? They clamor and froth at the mouth when they think the 2nd amendment is threatened. But the fourth? The one that grants us due process and is there to protect us from the unchecked power of the government? Not a peep. I guess some amendments are absolute and others, not so much. The actions of the nsa should chill the heart of any freedom loving American.

    June 11, 2013 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  14. Eanor

    ....and who gets to define what a terrorist or traitor is?

    June 11, 2013 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  15. Bill

    Some historically relevant quotes for you:

    "Everything secret degenerates, even the administration of justice; nothing is safe that cannot bear discussion and publicity." - Lord Acton

    "Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither" - Ben Franklin

    "The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all." - H.L. Menken

    June 11, 2013 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  16. Army Veteran

    What a sad State we are in as A Country.. Ron Paul will never be President Of the United State's, so my subjection to him is Retire ,We are Faced daily with Threat's from CRAZY PEOPLE in Country's that HATE America with A Passion, Now its within.And any Politician that think that FOOl did a great service for American .Need to go directly to a mental institution. Cause They has no Idea what's going on in this Dangerous world.

    June 11, 2013 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  17. Danielle

    Our boys are sacrificing their lives for us to live in a peaceful Country....and this traitor is making more difficult for everybody's peace of me he is the enemy now.......instead of helping the cause ...he is betraying our Country......

    June 11, 2013 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  18. Rudy NYC


    The timing of this could have been better. An disclosure in the middle of 2014 could have virtually guaranteed Rand Paul a winning chance at the white house on a Libertarian ticket. Now the govt. will explain it away – or ignore it – the people will forget and we'll have another Republican or Democrat in the white house again. Dang.
    The fact that your hero is also an *active* Ron Paul supporter actually reflects badly upon the Senator to the rest of us.

    June 11, 2013 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  19. Ordinary Average American

    If Snowden is a traitor, what on earth are YOU and your not-so-distinguished colleagues, Mr. Boehner?

    June 11, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  20. genebean23

    Boehner, you should be ashamed for calling Snowden a traitor. Snowden has honorably done his part to expose the wrongful use of power by the Federal Government in the name of fighting terrorism. We the people should have a say in what our Government is doing...specifically, when taking our right to privacy without due process. Snowden has given us a chance to have an open discussion on information gathering that is going on...information gathering which our Federal Government states is legal by the Patriot Act. We the people have the right to know when our personal information is being used without our consent.

    June 11, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  21. wj

    HERO!!!! Reporting about the corrosion of our liberties – he deserves a medal. Isn't that what a whistle-blower is – someone who has access to privileged information, and when that information is harmful to those it is being kept from, they choose to do the brave thing and SHARE IT.

    June 11, 2013 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  22. Sivick

    i'm conflicted about this. on the one hand it is totally legal what prism is doing, what with the patriot act and all. on the other hand... it bothers me that it's totally legal.... nobody broke any laws because nobody had to, and that creeps me out the most.

    June 11, 2013 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  23. Mom

    Yeah right, like terrorists didn't already know that the government is monitoring phone calls and the Internet. Give me a break. Obviously they need to monitor certain things in the name of safety, but they have overstepped their boundaries. If they thought what they were doing was right, they wouldn't have tried to keep it a secret. Beohner and others sit up there lining their pockets with special interest money instead of acting in the best interests of the American people and the environment we live in, so what does that make them?

    June 11, 2013 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  24. Michael

    It's really simple. If he what he disclosed highlighted laws that were broken he is a whistleblower, but if it did not he is a traitor.

    June 11, 2013 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  25. DaveinFlorida

    Boehner is a traitor along with most of congress and the senate.

    June 11, 2013 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
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