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. Bunnyman

    Boehner calling someone else a traitor? Pot, meet kettle.

    June 11, 2013 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  2. Karma

    Boehner has done this Country much more harm than Snowden could ever do!

    June 11, 2013 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  3. Mark

    Why is this guy any different than the Wikileaks guy? I don't see what Eric revealed was really that earth shattering. We tend to view government as Big Brother anyway. I think Snowden's motives are more self-serving than is being portrayed. I think he has a grandiose image of himself, egocentric and is hoping for a guest spot on Oprah.

    June 11, 2013 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  4. DickPerry

    And Americans are traitors for spying on their allies citizens.

    June 11, 2013 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  5. Sally Robbins

    Edward Snowden: alas an issue both bohner and Obama can agree upon....?

    June 11, 2013 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  6. Dominican mama 4 Obama


    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.
    China is waiting for you.
    See ya'!

    June 11, 2013 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  7. Lord Toronaga

    WRONG. Snowden is a hero. Republicans should embrace him. We love freedom and transparency. the NSA is a joke anyways. You watch to many dopey Hollywood movies.

    June 11, 2013 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  8. sarabethany

    "And it's a giant violation of the law." That sums up my thoughts about this program also. It's a giant violation of the supreme law of our land, the US Constitution, specifically the 4th Amendment. That's why they are fighting tooth and nail to keep it from going before the Supreme Court. They know it would not hold up to a Constitutional challenge. p.s. I am a law-abiding citizen, I have nothing to hide. However, I don't want to live in a country that is like the USSR or East Germany. Even if Obama is a good guy, Boehner is a good guy, we don't know how this program could be misused in the future. What if 10 or 20 years from now another Nixon is elected...

    June 11, 2013 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  9. GenYer

    Stop placing all the blame on the president. It is old and over used. There are many people that knew about and supported this program. If he was the only person betraying our trust, I am sure he would have been stopped a long time ago. That being said, I see not one person actually standing up and doing anything. All I see is a bunch of people pointing fingers on comment boards. Want to be taken seriously? Do something in real life about it other than hiding behind a computer screen.

    June 11, 2013 11:14 am at 11:14 am |

    I don't consider the man a traitor. Did he do wrong? yes, but once those in power abuse the power they have to the point of deception on the people they serve, they become traitors themselves. Hypocrites leading US today need to be replaced and charged for crimes against the Constitution and the people. We cannot allow abuses of power to expand to the point of ignorance and immunity without taking responcibility, well' they might as well be called a God. Hello Rome

    June 11, 2013 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  11. jim

    I'm don't approve what Snowden did, but I also don't agree with spying on the masses.

    June 11, 2013 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  12. Landru

    All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing

    June 11, 2013 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  13. glorydays

    Exactly what has Mr. Boehner done for America lately?

    June 11, 2013 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  14. Uncle Jack in Ann Arbor

    Hypocrisy in America? You decide ( read this excerpt from Obama speech in 2008)

    "Often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government is an existing government employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out. Such acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled as they have been during the Bush administration.
    We need to empower federal employees as watchdogs of wrongdoing and partners in performance. will strengthen whistleblower laws to protect federal workers who expose waste, fraud, and abuse of authority in government. "
    Barack Obama

    June 11, 2013 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  15. Bob

    Good Lord this is the first time I have ever liked what Boerner had to say America there is in fact hope. Yes the guy is a traitor and commenters do not get to decide what classified information is leaked in violation of our laws (a felony).

    June 11, 2013 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  16. Brian

    Wow... just comment after comment about how "Snowdon has finally brought this scam to light"!! People... the NSA's capability to do this has been spelled out in the Patriot Act, in plain English, since 2001. And to think the NSA is sitting there reading your emails to see if you've cheated on your taxes or something is insanity. The NSA has at its disposale, the ability to pull massive electronic communications records FOR THE SOLE PURPOSE of investigating a terrorist or foriegn threat. They are scanning billions of communications electronically looking for specific patterns, etc... and they've been doing this since 2001. All Snowdon did was break the law and "blow the whistle" on something that has been wide open public record for over a decade.

    June 11, 2013 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  17. Fair is Fair


    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.
    FYI – YOU consent to allow Facebook and Google when you agree to their terms of service. Big difference, mmmmmmmkay?

    June 11, 2013 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  18. AnimuX

    Easy way to get right-wing support for Snowden...

    Q: Can the NSA potentially use this system to track every firearm purchase made via phone or internet and create a national database of firearms sales?

    A: Yes.

    June 11, 2013 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  19. tstorm92

    Was Boehner looking in the mirror when he said that??

    June 11, 2013 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  20. scarf

    Snowden obviously knew he was doing something wrong, or he wouldn't have fled the country. If he really thought what he was doing was right, he would have had the courage of his convictions and fought in court for that vindication.

    And anyone who is surprised that the government is doing this is naive. When the government can accuse (not convict) you of being a terrorist, arrest you, and suspend your writ of habeaus corpus, government surveillance is nothing by comparison.

    June 11, 2013 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  21. JohnRJohnson

    John Boehner is a traitor to this country, having put his party above the needs of the country for the last 3 years and prevented any reasonable governing. He's got a lot of nerve accusing someone else of being a traitor.

    June 11, 2013 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  22. OKfine


    Boehner has done this Country much more harm than Snowden could ever do!


    I'll second that.

    June 11, 2013 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  23. Rudy NYC


    Freedom of Speech. This man is a hero for exposing how our Gov (both Dems and Repubs) are infringing on our rights and liberties. Mr. Snowden is a hero. His sacrifice will be remembered!
    As if all of this surveillance began under Pres. Obama. Try doing a web search for political headlines from May 2006. This exact same program was being used by the Bush administration to create unauthorized wiretaps.

    June 11, 2013 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  24. Be Reasonable

    Soooo, since when do we care what Boehner thinks or says?

    June 11, 2013 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  25. tstorm92

    Was Boener looking in the mirror when he said that??

    June 11, 2013 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
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