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. Geoffrey Hamilton

    So this guy will fight for the 2nd, while throwing out the 4th... there is a word for someone who says one thing and does another... starts with the letter H

    June 11, 2013 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  2. jeff

    the government has always been out of line..... yet when have they been for the people ????? not for this country

    June 11, 2013 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  3. Anonymous


    They passed a bill that allowed this years ago. Didn't anyone read it? Doesn't anyone remember when this scandal broke over 6 years ago? Why is anyone surprised? Good freaking grief.

    They know and knew about it. It's just Rand Paul's way of saying that as President, the United States will be open to the highest bidder. If Paul thinks that he can keep us "safe" from terrorism by taking away our National Security, it's doubtful those who are screaming "our freedom at all cost" will have to worry about losing their civil rights. Chances are, they won't have any rights left to lose. Russia, Iran, China aren't all that into allowing it's citizens "rights". Rand Paul is trying to increase his political money making machine at the cost of National Security.

    June 11, 2013 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  4. Jeff

    The republican congress passed the Patriot act with the help of Democrats. i heard no complaints from conservatives then. you reap what you sow.

    June 11, 2013 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  5. Adventure49

    There is a dilemma here. On the one hand we cannot have every person with access to sensitive data making their own decision on whether it should be divulged. On the other hand we all have an obligation to see that our government acts morally. When a person believes that government is acting immorally there needs to be a mechanism for them to challenge the government’s actions even if it involves classified information.

    June 11, 2013 10:48 am at 10:48 am |

    Well, isn't that calling the kettle black. Peddle your fish elsewhere John (Head Traitor in Charge) Boehner!

    June 11, 2013 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  7. Truth2012

    Smowdem is a traitor, he broke his national security oath and ran to communist Chinese soil to hide out...
    Pretty plain and simple...

    June 11, 2013 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  8. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    First I thought Snowden was a traitor but perhaps the guy is a hero after all. See, he's the first American to bring both isles of congress to agreement after all. Well, it wasn't his intension but he did it anyway. Now, lets pass a bi-partisan jobs bill, gun bill, immigration bill...

    June 11, 2013 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  9. JamesS

    Sad to see the people that have given up on the notion of freedom, safety at any price, what a bunch of cowards. Edward Snowden is a true national hero of whom our founding fathers would have been deeply proud.

    June 11, 2013 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  10. truth

    This is the first time I have ever agreed with Boehner. This Snowden creature should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Nobody wants to listen to your phone calls unless you are a potential terrorist. Who in their right mind would want terrorists to kill innocence people? Some of you are so confused you don't know what cause to champion. Freedom has it risk. That is America’s biggest problem Freedom of Speech. There has to be a line drawn in the sand, if we are going to save our country.

    June 11, 2013 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  11. USAPeasant

    Boehner – traitor for throwing away the Constitution and voting for spying, NDAA, and NDRP. Boehner is also very corrupt!!! Wikipedia him

    Snowden – Hero that proved to America its evil politicians were abusing their powers. Now every traitor and snake in the Senate and Congress is after Hero Snowden for PROVING that they are all tyrants.

    June 11, 2013 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  12. Fulghn

    Most of our political leadership are traitors – selling out the American people to foreign bank interests, allowing multinational corporations who operate here to do so tax free, allowing the excessively rich who have built their fortunes on the backs of their fellow Americans to shelter their assets in foreign banks, and on and on...

    Bravo to the man brave enough to say "What you are doing is wrong!"

    June 11, 2013 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  13. RonC

    Some posting on here need to get the facts rather than spout off. Jay & Tom Paine, this program was started under Bush and has been in effect for years. The so called IRS scandel is coming to and end. After a "Repuiblican" testified to Congress that he was aware of the Tea Party stuff but it has been blown out of proportion as they did not target them other than ask for information as they knew the Tea Party is without a doubt Political and yet the crook, Issa, wants to play the role and keep hearings going on forever even though there's no smoking gun. Of course that's what Republicans do, blow smoke and not do anything for out Country.

    June 11, 2013 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  14. works4me

    "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the UNITED States of America,
    and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God,
    indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

    For all... this is the 21st century folks. Times and methods for getting under the skin of opposing nations, for whatever reason, are tools of the trade. Can you imagine the grief President Obama would be getting if we weren't being covered? Can you imagine if there was another huge attack what would be going on right now and where the fingers would be pointed? Sure, some do get by, but now the terrorists not only know, instead of surmise, they can counter. This little dweeb has indeed put our nation in a little more danger. He If he had something like this to address he should have followed the proper protocol and kept moving up the ladder until someone answered. Perhaps a reasonable answer would have changed his mind about opening his cavernous traitor mouth. He's NO hero. The heroes are the ones that put their lives on the line everyday to keep America, America.

    June 11, 2013 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  15. christian

    FYI. Facebook and Google are collecting everything you do on the internet. At least the government is collecting information to protect us. Facebook and Google is collecting info so they can advertise to you and make a profit.

    June 11, 2013 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  16. Alyssa

    He told the American people about how the government they are supposed to trust is tapping their communications behind their back. Traitor? No. Not even a little.

    June 11, 2013 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  17. Truth2012

    If your not calling fanatical religious zealots, then you have nothing to worry about, the algorithms match numbers, not listen to your conversations... if you're not committing a crime then your all good....

    June 11, 2013 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  18. George B

    The GOP throws around the term "Patriot" all too often; applying it to racists, homophobes and tax dodgers but when they come across someone willing to risk his life and livelihood to defend the constitution and the principles of democracy they use the word "traitor" What exactly does the GOP value?

    June 11, 2013 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  19. Bob4683

    Jon Huntsman is the only one with a positive vision for the country rather than being bent on name calling and obstruction. Hope he runs in 2016.

    June 11, 2013 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  20. VT_Citizen

    In being willing to harm this countries economy in order to inflict political damage on the current administration, then entire Republican party are traitors. Go sit in a corner and cry Boehner.

    June 11, 2013 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  21. 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.

    June 11, 2013 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  22. Patrick

    Shutup Boehner. Quit hiding behind your tired "this puts Americans at risk" argument your clique uses for every other scenario. Uncle Sam was blatantly violating our 4th amendment rights and you got called out on it.

    Good for this guy. Americans need to blow more whistles.

    June 11, 2013 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  23. Prime Controller

    And so now the Political Circle is complete.... the two major parties can agree on one thing. Your Constitutional rights are written on toilet paper.

    June 11, 2013 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  24. Bob

    Since when does Boehner cite President Obama in a positive way when he makes a point?

    June 11, 2013 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  25. Malory Archer

    I've been horrified by government snooping for years (remember the previous occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue telling delivery people and repairmen to keep an eye out for "suspicious" activities while at customer's homes?) and I'm still horrified. This has been going on for years and those of us who have always been against it were vilified and called every name in the book by the previous administration and their sycophants, so you can't blame President Obama for it. Congress could have ended the Patriot Act anytime during the last 11.5 years since its inception, but they keep renewing it every time it's up for vote.

    June 11, 2013 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
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