Facebook board member and Netscape founder Marc Andreessen set himself apart from the majority of Silicon Valley Thursday when he described National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden as a “textbook traitor” during an interview.
“Obviously he’s a traitor,” Andreessen said on CNBC. “If you look up in the encyclopedia, traitor, there’s a picture of Edward Snowden.”
Andreessen said American tech companies stand to lose a significant amount of overseas business as a result of leaked bulk surveillance programs conducted by NSA simply because they’re from the same country. The entrepreneur implied it was treasonous to disclose such secrets, but conceded that his argument was in Silicon Valley’s “distinct minority.”
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg along with the heads of the valley’s biggest tech giants have united on numerous occasions in the year since Snowden’s first leaks to criticize the scale and scope of such programs and call for reform.
That effort was renewed Thursday in the form of a letter from Zuckerberg and others to the U.S. Senate urging the upper chamber to adopt strict curbs to surveillance as part of its consideration of the USA FREEDOM Act NSA reform bill, which passed the House two weeks ago and is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Intelligence Committee Thursday.
According to Andreessen, there should have been little surprise about the leaks in the first place.
“I think if you actually followed the NSA, if you read the books and the articles and understood the history, I think you generally assumed they were doing pretty much everything that’s come out,” he said. “The biggest surprise for me was that people were so shocked.”
Despite his seeming support for the agency, Andreessen wasn’t equally keen on the Obama administration’s response to the leaks.
“They’re letting the NSA, I think, hang out to dry,” Andreessen said. “I think they’re letting the American tech industry hang out to dry. I have not met anybody in the American technology industry who feels like the White House has a plan.”