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. brian

    i think boehner should get a nose ring

    June 11, 2013 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  2. GA Spencer

    We have the same privacy we always had. However, we have more devices.

    Snowden is no hero. We all knew, or at least now know that electronic info. gets stored and the gov. could access it if needed.

    If you want to keep a secret then dont text, it email, it or speak of if over an electronic platform. Any one that thought the gov. was not moitoring them was just fooled.
    We have all the privacy that we ever had, just more devices......
    please calm down and just use common sense.

    June 11, 2013 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  3. sean

    If these programs are there to keep us safe, how do you explain boston? The terrorist are still attacking us at will, and the government is just taking our rights away.

    June 11, 2013 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  4. Pandamonius

    Typical GOP hypocrisy.

    According to Boehner, Snowden's a traitor for leaking gov't secrets, yet Obama is a tyrant for attempting to find those who leak gov't secrets.

    June 11, 2013 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  5. tango zulu

    You are the traiter! 4th amendment, remember that one?
    Time to flush the trash in washington...this and wikileaks is jut the beginning..get readdy..

    June 11, 2013 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  6. JohnW

    Hero? Maybe. Traitor? Definitely. Breaking a law that is specifically designed to protect the lives of Americans leaves absolutely no doubt that his actions were traitorous.

    June 11, 2013 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  7. rs

    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?
    Fair question, but this guy worked for a private contractor (Booz-Allen), not he U.S. Gov't or the NSA directly. So much for privatization

    June 11, 2013 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  8. ja

    snowden, self righteous, judge, jury and executioner.

    June 11, 2013 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  9. Dan

    Our enemies were already aware of our capabilities. Do you think for a moment the enemy doesn't realize all forms of electronic communications can be monitored? The real problem is you got caught. If we monitored all communications of our elected officials, half of you would be in prison. So, who are the real criminals?

    June 11, 2013 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  10. Jason

    Absolutely he's a traitor. But so were Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, and Adams!

    June 11, 2013 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  11. sonnie3

    illegal immigrants are against the law also, but the democrats seeking votes don't mind passing a blind eye over that law?
    Seems that congress and obama are picking and choosing what laws they want to keep and what laws they ignore??

    June 11, 2013 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  12. DJ Reality

    Rand Paul wont say what he thinks of Snowden until the president does. Then he will be on the opposite side. then he will use it against the president.

    June 11, 2013 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  13. GI Joe

    Rand Paul is nuttier than his dad, and Boehner wants something - we just don't know what that is yet.

    It will not end well for the republicans up for re-election next year. That you can bank on.

    June 11, 2013 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  14. sharman

    Snowden Is A Hero He Let Us Know What The Government Under this Administration Is Targeting people that do Not have Politcal views as them. The Aministration knew about the Boston bombers way before hand because the russian government told them. The Obama Adminstration ignored it

    June 11, 2013 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  15. Data Driven

    I'm asking all of you - begging, actually - to refrain from using that Benjamin Franklin quote. I mean it: moratorium. You're driving me bonkers.

    Speaking of bonkers: Suzy Mack, did you forget the purple pills today?

    June 11, 2013 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  16. NameLeeAT

    With our enemies looking for every way that they can exploit our security measures, the need to use every tool at our disposal to prevent them from doing so. I'm not saying anything that I would be bothered about someone hearing it anyway. I think that we expose too many of our secrets anyway and I believe that are safety is compromised too much for the sake of a news article. I don't see Snowden as a hero. I think he greatly compromised our safety for 15 minutes of fame.

    June 11, 2013 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  17. Udayan Mallik

    I hope house intelligence committee will vote to demand that he be kidnapped & brought back to US. He is a SPY. He is a Traitor. If he ere Russian they would have taken care of him with Polonium. We should do the same if Russia grants him asylum. I'm not sure why Rand Paul has to waste one moment of senate time to defend him. This NSA guy had a hundred other avenues to release this information inside the US. Instead he went to China with his secrets – a country waging an active online war on the US.

    June 11, 2013 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  18. Rudy NYC

    DJ Reality

    Rand Paul wont say what he thinks of Snowden until the president does. Then he will be on the opposite side. then he will use it against the president.
    Welcome to reality. Rand Paul has already declared the young man a hero, which he should. After all, the kid is an active Paul supporter, by his own admission.

    June 11, 2013 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  19. Lord Toronaga

    Snowden's a total hero. We want total transparency. No Secrets.

    June 11, 2013 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  20. Zack

    What gives any other u.s. citizen the right to know more about the country that I live in than I do? No one. That is why I hate topics like this because people who are calling him a "traitor" obviously don't realize he is trying to help. Why wouldn't I want to know my phone calls are being monitored? Invasion of privacy

    June 11, 2013 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  21. bob

    Susieq- I FEEL YOUR PAIN

    June 11, 2013 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  22. GI Joe

    Snowden took an oath to NOT disclose TOP SECRET info. He's a traitor.

    June 11, 2013 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  23. Suzy Mack

    I want the new liberties of the extreme left !!! Total chaos is fun and profitable. Bring it home to Suzy.

    June 11, 2013 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  24. Suzy Mack

    Snowden is my hero. Thnak you for what you did. I sick of the govt lying to me, recording my phone calls, text messages, purchases, credit cards, following my internet activity, tolls etc..... NO MORE. I'd rather live with terror.

    June 11, 2013 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  25. sp

    We owe the birth of our nation to traitors to the British crown. Now it's a bad thing. Got it...

    Never sacrifice personal gain for patriotism. Our founding fathers were dead wrong.

    June 11, 2013 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
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