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. stevetall

    John Boehner, speaking like the Nazi Youth leader he always wanted to be. Speaking of 'traitor', John. Do you think you could do any good work for America, or is it all about doing nothing positive for the citizenry? Snowden is a patriot, and you are a corporate puppet whom history will remember for what you are: Completely useless.

    June 11, 2013 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  2. bczu

    John1960, worked well for the Boston Bombers. Oh wait, that was old fashioned police work.

    June 11, 2013 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  3. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Fair is Fair
    FYI – YOU consent to allow Facebook and Google when you agree to their terms of service. Big difference, mmmmmmmkay?
    NO terms of service involved when someone, anyone, can "Google Earth" you.

    June 11, 2013 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  4. Paul G.

    Why do the politicians keep telling everyone how much sensitive information and intelligence Snowden has? Are they trying to convince the Chinese to go pick him up?

    June 11, 2013 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  5. Brian

    LOL... wow... "what the US is doing is illegal!!"... umm... no, again, it has been written in plain language, as LAW, in the Patriot Act since 2001... and even that is an extension of the FISA that dtes back to the 70's. LOL. "It's illegal!". Where ya been the last 40 years??

    June 11, 2013 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  6. DavM

    Edward Snowden is a traitor.

    June 11, 2013 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  7. Anthony

    to Mr. Boehner,
    look who is calling the kettle black!!!!!! last i checked you were just as big of a traitor for choosing Party over Country, when your house held the economic well being of the country hostage so that you can get tax breaks for already wealthy supports.

    June 11, 2013 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  8. dl

    John would know a traitor when he see's one, that's for sure

    June 11, 2013 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  9. jake1969

    "Remember you formed a government to protect you from foreign and "domestic" enemies. I really don't see a big deal. Yeah I get it – civil liberty is a big deal. And so is loss of life. Knock on wood nothing like Sept 11/2011 attacks ever happen again, but maybe it should so it should remind you folks of how dangerous it is to have your own US citizen revealing its secret to the world."

    Well said. If everyone who worked in the security arena behaved like Snowden, it would be a total disaster. And no civil liberties have technically been breached...only the theoretical possibility that this info, collected for 10-20 years now, could lead to a breach. The overreaction is amusing. The head of Oracle after 9/11 was quoted as saying "Americans spend so much time trying to protect themselves from their government, they've left their government unable to protect them." People need to grow up and recognize today's threats. And the right wingers can carry all the AR-15s they want, it won't save them if they are in the wrong place at the wrong time. Like it or not, we need government collecting intelligence to counter the terror threat. As long as the meta data isn't then used to work against non-threats and innocent civilians, I'm fine with it. We will know if that line is crossed.

    June 11, 2013 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  10. Jim

    If Boehner and Feinstein are representative, the Washington Establishment is badly misreading the American public on this incident.

    June 11, 2013 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  11. JFCanton

    If hyperbole were a crime, Rep. King would be serving about 20 life terms. Just because it's a secret doesn't mean it's valuable as a secret, and just because it's a crime to reveal it doesn't mean it is worth any effort on prosecuting it.

    June 11, 2013 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  12. sgurdog

    Furthermore, what Bohner and the establishment are doing in painting him as a traitor are nothing more than psych ops.

    June 11, 2013 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  13. DavM

    obama's failed administration,Edward Snowden one more failure for comrade obama.

    June 11, 2013 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  14. BillyBubba

    Anyone who brings to light secret illegal operations within the government is now a traitor. Hate to say it but our government is so out of control with illegal activities that all law should now be null and void.

    June 11, 2013 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  15. Robert

    The hell with the US Gov. They have become a tyranny. They are becoming no better than Germany under Hitler. Everything you have been trained to be scared of was brought to you by the NSA or the CIA. Well, except good old fashioned serial killers and mass shooters. I think it is about time we stop calling these people traitors who are actually sticking up for the USA and the ideals of the once great nation. Do yourselves a favor stop watching so much TV, go traveling for once in your life some where outside of the USA, Learn another language, and watch news that is not owned by some big corporation. PS. Learn more about history.

    June 11, 2013 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  16. Sam Cole

    People like House Speaker John Boehner are criminals period. When a crook or a felon is caught in the act they always try and deflect attention from the fact that they broke the law. Since when do you spy on those that pay your salary? Boehner claims that Snowden well lets see if you are a terrorist and you don't know that the U.S Gov. and its allies are trying to monitor your phone, email, text, etc. etc. you more than likely rode the short bus as a child. This information is known so why does Boehner talk about this man like he is Benedict Arnold? Its simple the American public already has a bad taste in their mouths for government, now we are told that they are data mining our phone, text, and email and again for what reason? Boehner I think you should be focused on trying to save that dodo bird of a party and less on trying to form a Gestapo like atmosphere where its ok to spy on citizens of your own nation.

    June 11, 2013 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  17. Anurag

    If we are okay with the spying, then the terrorist have won! They won the day TSA started invasive screening and they won the Obama gave Ok to expand spying.

    June 11, 2013 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  18. Chett

    If you mean traitor as in: Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Adams, George Washington or Paul Revere.................Then yeah I guess he's a traitor.

    June 11, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  19. SV

    God help me I'm in agreement with Boehner. Rand Paul is reserving judgement, which means he's waiting for marching orders from his corporate masters on how to attack the president with it. Presidential candidates can bloviate all they want but when they get in the Oval Office and read the secret files I'm not at all surprised if they find compelling reasons to continue some of the previous administrations' policies. We're not all adult enough to understand the threats we live with on a daily basis and being totally truthful could undermine how we keep these threats at bay. And while I understand where Ben Franklin was coming from our world is far more complicated than what it was when he walked the earth.

    June 11, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  20. Violet Weed

    Snowden is a traitor. He didn't have legal access to any of those documents, after all he was just a computer technician, you know, the entry level job that any grade 10 student could do after a one-semester course for an A+ certification. Use a screwdriver, the red wire goes by pin number one, ground yourself before replacing boards, make sure the system is shut down, turned off, unplugged and the monitor is also disconnected. Oh wait. He doesn't even have to know about the red wire any more, either. He's a nothing, nobody, making 15 bucks an hour if he is lucky. So how did he get the money to live in a hong kong hotel? Come on now. You alll know. He sold what he stole to SOMEONE, he didn't do anything 'because he loves his country and the govt is stealing our rights'. He did it for MONEY. He didn't tell his girlfriend or his parents, because he is a typical sociopath, he doesn't care about who he hurts. He just felt 'abused' and like the immature sob that he is, he wanted to get noticed. Well, we noticed him, and now we have a clear picture of his face, too. hmmm. I wonder how long it will take before he has an accident, on purpose?

    June 11, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  21. James

    The War on terror is ridiculous, unbelievable how much money and how many rights are infringed upon to "protect" Americans from such an incredibly minute threat of death.
    1 in 20 million
    — Chance of dying in a terrorist attack in the United States from 2007 to 2011, according to Richard Barrett, coordinator of the United Nations al Qaeda/Taliban Monitoring Team.

    June 11, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  22. Gloria

    Are we supposed to expect that an intelligence service in any country is supposed to expose all its tactics and strategies to the general public? How naïve! And as far as the phone surveillance is concerned, NO ONE HAS BEEN LISTENTING TO INDIVIDUAL PHONE CALLS WITHOUT A WARRANT!!!!!!! So if anyone has something to hide, then he or she should be very concerned at this time. And I am really interested in what Snowdon is expecting the government to do to ensure the safety of its citizens? Give us your suggestions, Mr. Snowdon! You are not a patriot by any stretch of the imagination.

    June 11, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  23. Iggy

    For those who arent terrorits or want to kill the president; who cares? They can listen in on the list of groceries my wife gives me over the phone all they want.

    June 11, 2013 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  24. Brian

    The Patriot Act gives the NSA the authority to demand electonic communications records (in the recent case from Verison) as they see fit for the sole purpose of investigating terrorist activity. The Patriot Act also spells out, clearly, that these individual requests are "top secret" and can not be exposed. What Snowdon did was take a "top secret" request (a request that for the 10th time, the NSA is fully authorized to make under the Patriot Act) and expose it to the world while running and hiding in Honk Kong. I hope the US brings him back, tries him for treason and he spends the rest of his life in jail.... and if people are "shocked" that the Govt has had this power, then you've been living in a cave for the last four decades.

    June 11, 2013 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  25. glts

    Boehner's been a traitor for a long time!

    June 11, 2013 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
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