NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is a traitor and journalists who “willingly” report on classified information should be punished, according to Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford).
“I think he’s either a defector or a traitor—I guess take your pick,” King told Anderson Cooper on AC: 360 Tuesday night, adding that he doesn’t know “how he can live with himself,” referring to Snowden, a 29-year-old National Security Agency contractor, who leaked top secret documents regarding the country’s vast surveillance program to The Guardian.
“I think what he’s done has done incredible damage to our country,” said King, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Counterintelligence and Terrorism. “It’s going to put American lives at risk.”
When asked by Cooper if journalists should also be punished for helping disclose top secret information to the public, King said, “If they willingly knew that this was classified information, I think actions should be taken, especially something of this magnitude.”
He added: “I think something on this magnitude there is an obligation both moral but also legal I believe against a reporter disclosing something which would so severely compromise national security…the answer is yes to your question.”
Kings remarks came on the same day that the American Civil Liberties Union filed a suit against the Obama Administration’s “dragnet acquisition of…telephone records” under the Patriot Act, according to the complaint.
“The practice is akin to snatching every American’s address book—with annotations detailing whom we spoke to, when we talked, for how long, and from where,” the complaint blasts.
The explosive leaks provided a glimpse into the government’s vast surveillance program, which the president himself and other lawmakers have defended as a necessity to prevent terror attacks.
“Al Qaeda and its allies now know…exactly what we’re doing and how we’re doing it they were not aware of all the details that are out there,” King said, explaining how the leaks could endanger American lives.
“By giving the enemy such detail about what we are doing that enables them to adjust their tactics,” he added.
Glenn Greenwald, the author of The Guardian story, defended his work on CNN’s Reliable Sources this weekend.
“Every terrorist on the planet already knows—and have known for a long time–that the United States is trying to surveil their communications, eavesdrop on their telephone calls, read their emails,” he told the show’s host, Howard Kurtz. “Any terrorist who isn’t already aware of that is a terrorist who is incapable of tying their shoes let alone detonating a bomb successfully in the United States…
“What we disclosed is that the American government’s surveilling its own citizens, people who are suspected of no wrongdoing,” he continued. “The only thing that has been damaged here is not national security, what has been damaged is the reputation and the credibility of the political officials who want to hide behind top secret designations to conceal their own wrongdoing.”