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. Ralph_in_FL

    At this point, does anyone actually care what Boehner says?

    June 11, 2013 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  2. Tim Rod

    This heart of the issue is the government has lost our trust. The controversies are mounting under this administration. Pres. O is not a respecter or possessor of the values that made America great. He tramples the constitution and thumbs his nose at anyone who resists his vision. We are in for a long and ugly ride.

    June 11, 2013 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  3. USAPeasant

    Wikipedia search Peter King the man leading the charge against American Hero Snowden. Looks like Peter has some terror skeletons in his closet.

    June 11, 2013 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  4. mrkds

    The only traitors here are those who feel that Snowden did a disservice. Boehner, king, and any politician who states that Snowden is a traitor for allowing americans to know that their govt. is spying on them is the real traitor.
    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."
    Are the American people his adversaries?????

    June 11, 2013 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  5. jb1963

    If John Boehner is complaining about something it only means he is not making a profit on it or it does not help the rich.

    June 11, 2013 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  6. JamesS

    This is what happens with the collusion of Big Government & Big Corporation. It's greed for power and money on steroids, a monstrous evil beast that feeds off of the people. The Republicans and the Democrats are simply two sides of the same coin.

    June 11, 2013 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  7. Smokey

    It's the U.S. Government that is betraying the values that America supposedly stands for; for them to call this guy a traitor is outrageous! America is supposed to be the herald of freedom, not the vanguard of oppression. These sorts of secretive spy programs are the tools of tyrants and dictators. The government is supposed to be "By the people, for the people," and yet this guy is a traitor for telling the people what their government is doing to them? To me that just sounds doubleplusungood.

    June 11, 2013 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  8. Anonymous

    The obvious question..........Why is a high school and national guard dropout able to gain access to national security data via a contract company? The irony........his flight from the US may open his eyes to the freedoms he has jeopardized......................

    June 11, 2013 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  9. Wane

    Funny thing, what people do to get in the lime lite. there might be things we dont like about our Government, but the bottom line is this: We have many freedoms and without question are the #1 country that people want to call thier home.
    What makes us Great is the ability to speak out, the problem is somtimes we speakout without thinking about how this will effect everyone else, and the saftey of our nation.
    Take a minute to look out your window and take in the freedoms we have, and then think of what it takes to keep them.

    June 11, 2013 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  10. Anonymous


    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.

    Once you are old enough to vote, perhaps you will fully understand the depth to which America must travel to protect its people. Until then, talking points are useless and easily seen as ideological bull crap. Take your anger out on those who wish to harm us, not on those who wish to protect us. Oh, and btw: those who wish to harm us are being given the information to do so by the very man you call a patriot.

    June 11, 2013 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  11. Malory Archer

    I've been taken aback 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 disgusted. 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 11.5 years since its inception, but they keep renewing it every time it's up for vote. You could attempt to blame the dems but they’re the minority in the house and they lack a filibuster-proof majority in the senate. This is all on the repubs.

    June 11, 2013 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  12. The Real Tom Paine


    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.
    Did you actually read what I posted earlier? It was hardly an endorsement of the GOP. You need to get your facts straight, sir.

    June 11, 2013 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  13. Julie Labrouste

    Boehner is the traitor, as is the whole of this, the Oligarchic Corporatist Police State of America (with the exception of Sen. Bernie Sanders), having brazenly prostituted themselves to Big Business and Big Money or BBBM or Triple-BM. The First American Republic was overthrown by Triple-BM some time ago and the American citizen is under no less of an obligation that the citizen of Nazi Germany. Let no American, myself included, claim that they didn't know of the countless crimes that the U.S. government has committed in their name (see the collective works of Prof. Noam Chomsky).

    June 11, 2013 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  14. Scott Moore

    Boehner is a traitor. Snowden exposed an illegal program to spy on all Americans, which would make him a great defender of the Constitution. Boehner wants us to believe that he is protecting our safety, and in so doing asks all Americans to ignore the fact that what the NSA and Congress is doing is unconstitutional. Boehner clearly has no regard for our constitutional principles, which would make him the traitor.

    June 11, 2013 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  15. Ken

    What a hypocrit. The Republicans have fought against everything that President Obama has tried to do for this country and the people of this country. If anyone is a traitor it would be the members of the GOP.

    June 11, 2013 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  16. John The Electrician

    We raise our kids to be proud of our country's history and to uphold our constitution. Then they grow up and get a job and learn it's all a lie. What do you expect. "To thy own self be true".

    June 11, 2013 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  17. StevenR

    It takes one to know one. Boehner is the biggest TRAITOR there ever was. He stated in so many words that he would take the country down to make Obama a one term president and he THEN WENT ABOUT DOING IT. By trying to destroy the economy for his own political gain, Boehner should be sent to prison for the rest of his natural life and THAT is only because I don't believe in the the DEATH PENALTY. No. Snowdon is a HERO for bringing this to light and doing so in such a way that any impact on the country is minimized – he only gave a broad overview with no detail. Boehner is a TRAITOR and a FOOL.

    June 11, 2013 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  18. SJ

    I'm a Republican. I'm ashamed at Boehner's comments. Snowden is a patriot in the truest sense and an American hero.

    June 11, 2013 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  19. Bill

    Malory Archer said "so you can't blame President Obama for it."

    Yes, I can. I can blame whoever does it. The fact that bush ALSO did it doesn't excuse Obama.

    June 11, 2013 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  20. Mike

    Wow. The first time I've ever agreed with Boehner. I'm amazed by the number of people who are willing to look the other way, and ignore the fact this guy committed espionage against the United States.

    June 11, 2013 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  21. glorydays

    Those who approved this attack on the Constitution are the traitors.

    June 11, 2013 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  22. In the Middle

    Snowden is no hero and I won't glorify him as a traitor. He is nothing more than a coward who punched someone in the face and then ran to keep from being punched back. The people that are celebrating Snowden and rebuking the US Government will be the very ones complaining that our government didn't do enough the next time Americans are attacked by terroists.

    June 11, 2013 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  23. Sally Robbins

    I don't believe our govt. has struck the "right balance" between privacy and security as recently proclaimed by our highest govt. official. History will show that excessive targeting of public information as have been ramped up in past
    few years, mainly with bush's policies, and Obama continuing them to prevent political public misfire after he leaves office, ultimately reveals a "democratic" govts. hypocrisy. Kudos to Mr. Snowden. He is an upright man, pointing out crooked ways of the most powerful institution in the world – the US govt. Snowden's aim is peace, liberty and justice for ALL.

    June 11, 2013 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  24. O

    The government is the one breaking the law. Try reading the 4th amendment Mr. Boehner. I question whether our government officials have ever seen a copy of the constitution.

    June 11, 2013 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  25. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    "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.
    Did Boehner just agree with something his President is doing?
    I'm skating in Hades.

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