Snowden’s father responds to Obama’s claim his son is not a patriot
August 11th, 2013
12:14 PM ET
9 years ago

Snowden’s father responds to Obama’s claim his son is not a patriot

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(CNN) – President Barack Obama’s assertion Friday that Edward Snowden was not a patriot for leaking details about top-secret American surveillance programs was brushed aside Sunday by Snowden’s father.

Lon Snowden - who says he is traveling soon to Russia, where his son has been granted asylum - suggested instead that Edward Snowden had put himself at great personal risk in order to inform Americans about the data their government collects.

“My son has spoken the truth, and he has sacrificed more than either the president of the United States or (U.S. Rep.) Peter King have ever in their political careers or their American lives. So how they choose to characterize him really doesn't carry that much weight with me,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.”

King, a Republican who once chaired the House Homeland Security Committee, has called Snowden a “traitor.”

During a news conference Friday, Obama was asked whether he thought Snowden was a patriot for leaking the surveillance information, which showed the National Security Agency collecting massive amounts of metadata on Americans’ phone calls and Internet usage.

“I don't think Mr. Snowden was a patriot,” Obama said.

“The fact is, is that Mr. Snowden's been charged with three felonies,” the president added. “If, in fact, he believes that what he did was right, then, like every American citizen, he can come here, appear before the court with a lawyer and make his case.”

Ahead of the question-and-answer session, the president unveiled new measures to instill greater transparency in government spying programs, though he downplayed the role Snowden played in prompting the new effort.

“I called for a thorough review of our surveillance operations before Mr. Snowden made these leaks. My preference - and I think the American people's preference - would have been for a lawful, orderly examination of these laws; a thoughtful, fact-based debate,” he said.

Among the steps the president announced Friday was a new effort to work with Congress to pursue appropriate improvements of the telephone data program. He also proposed reforming the secret court that approves that phone surveillance, improving transparency to provide as much information as possible to the public, including the legal rationale for government collection activities; and appointing a high-level, independent group of outside experts to review surveillance technologies.

The new steps toward transparency were largely welcomed by lawmakers Sunday, though Lon Snowden argued the plan was “superficial.”

“I believe that's driven by his clear understanding that the American people are unhappy with what they've learned and more is forthcoming,” Snowden said.

During his news conference, Obama described a general mistrust in the government that ignited when the government snooping programs were revealed earlier this summer. Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, agreed Sunday that Americans - particularly those younger than he or the president - were growing increasingly skeptical of their government’s actions.

“There's kind of a generational change here. Young Americans do not trust this government. Without trust in government, you can't do a lot of things,” McCain said on “Fox News Sunday,” adding that he didn’t disagree with any of the president’s proposals.

Rep. James Clyburn, a South Carolina Democrat, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that transparency was an important goal, but that more needed to be done in reducing the number of private contractors with access to sensitive government secrets.

“You want to be very, very careful in not just what the president is doing, but with what all of the hired hands may be doing when they're carrying out their duties and responsibilities,” he said.

Two Republicans, however, chided Obama Sunday for not offering a more robust defense of the NSA programs, which they argued had saved many lives and now are being questioned.

Obama “finally came out last Friday trying to come up with ways to salvage the program by window dressing,” said Rep. Mike McCaul, the Republican chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“The problem fundamentally is he's failed to explain these programs which are lawful, which have saved lives, which have stopped terrorist plots,” he continued.

The president has “been silent for the last two months,” King added on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “He’s allowed the Edward Snowdens and the others of the world to dominate the media and now we have so many people who actually think the NSA is spying on people, is listening to our phone calls, is reading our e-mails.”

Filed under: NSA • President Obama
soundoff (61 Responses)
  1. Name

    The guy is a traitor – only self serving idiots believe the people of this country need to know everything about our security programs – ever heard the term "top secretk" Amateur clown!

    August 11, 2013 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  2. len

    buddha bless snowden

    August 11, 2013 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  3. S. B. Stein

    Snowden hasn't shown that he attempted to go to any and all groups that had some responsibility of oversight of these NSA programs. When did he go to any members of either the House or Senate intelligence committees? I don't hear that he did that. If he had, he might have gotten more done than doing what he did - aiding the Russians and Chinese who have been hacking us and denying it.

    August 11, 2013 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  4. Matt

    Snowden is a patriot in the strictest sense for his act of letting us know what uncle sam is up to.
    Stand up and tell uncle same to stow it.

    August 12, 2013 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  5. Nancy

    Snowden is a hero. And I'm not an uber liberal naive to the threat of terrorism - I see it as a growing horrific problem and it sickens and terrifies me, but it doesn't justify these programs which not only violate our 4th amendment rights but put way too much power of our government that is increasingly partisan and secretive. Imagine the elections that can be controlled with this information? Imagine how reporters can be intimidated away from stories? Imagine how individuals can be controlled for fear of blackmail? Now look at how it failed to prevent Boston and Ft Hood... the balance does not exist.

    August 12, 2013 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  6. Harry Masters

    Obama doesn't want Snowden back in the USA !!

    A significant portion of the USA thinks Snowden is a hero, particularly young people, who will be out waiving "Free Snowden" signs at freedom rallies. Obama's got too much on his plate already.

    I believe Obama and Putin cooked up the asylum arrangement to keep Snowden out of sight until after the midterm elections, while Putin gains prestige by standing up to the USA.

    If Snowden comes back , Obama will have to pardon him and enact reforms at the NSA to regain his Cool Factor.

    Ironically , it took Snowden for Obama to make good on his transparency promise

    August 12, 2013 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  7. John C Finley

    A patriot would stand his ground, rather than run to the enemy. China and Russia are not our friends by any means. They have opposed us and most of the rest of the world on Syria while thousands die. China still supports North Korea who are possibly the worse regime in the treatment of their own people and continue to try to sabotage and subvert South Korea. I still say that Daniel Ellsberg is the greatest American hero of the past one hundred years. He did not run, took the pain and slander and stood up for this nation, when its government lied and failed our people.

    August 12, 2013 03:13 am at 3:13 am |
  8. Mary Ann

    Face the cold hard truth,Mr Snowden your son is a traitor.

    August 12, 2013 05:13 am at 5:13 am |
  9. Marie MD

    My two cents. . . . your son is a traitor and if you or your wife are still living in Woodland Village move!

    August 12, 2013 06:18 am at 6:18 am |
  10. wordsdontmatter

    Patriotism, or romantic nationalism, is actually the problem as you fail to see what is in front of your eyes: think matrix 1 or your past romantic love mistakes (divorce, beatings?). These little myths, as if, a patriot is someone who should defend their government instead of real people and any real 'national' interest that is actually national. Stll, this is how they get you to be slaves, and you remain ignorant, willingly, to what Washington does in the name of the U.S., for quite some time, alongside TNCs and TCC (trans capitalist class) selling your marketing myths while domestically your romantic mythical movie fable country DOES NOT exist now, and historically never did, while your domestic inequality grows, and you are used to export the Devil or unenlightened and non romantic American myths to the REAL world. Sadly, it is coming back to you.. no freedom within u, export oppression. You cannot think you are righteous or holy or good or God @ home while your fruit abroad is sickening, and even now, it has come back to focus on you. And you defend it blindly like the matrix.. The only good thing about the U.S. historically is the constitution, and sepration of powers, and prob bad now-rep democracy-as does not work with over 300 million people and only 100 reps not repping you. The constituion was based on American (i.e. British plus) and French enlightenment concepts of equality, and now your pres is openly saying that 'your' safety is more important than it. Please, it is not hard to see in a couple decades or less once econ crisis fraud comes back here, to imagine an Egypt style 'coup' happening here now the precedent has been set: They simply refuse to call anything what it actually is and you support the demise of the very myths you claim to believe in. Also, I caution u Christians that romantic nationalism (or patriotism) is idolatry as it subsumes God to the nation just like Germany's rise of romantic nationalism from the 1870s to 1945: how did that work out for them? You must learn your less or you simply will be the bane of the world: your world too.

    August 12, 2013 06:34 am at 6:34 am |
  11. wordsdontmatter

    all patriots (slavish patriotism) or romantic nationalist are traitors: to the human race and God. Germany learned there lesson 1870-1945 with regard to the end of romantic nationalism and slavish patriot thoughts of inequality (superiority); sadly, the US will soon have to learn that their govt is not patriot to them, nor the corps, and through their acquiesce export and work their lives to let the few destroy the many and the world.

    August 12, 2013 06:39 am at 6:39 am |
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