Former vice president and global warming activist Al Gore forayed into the world of government surveillance on Tuesday, claiming that the National Security Agency’s constitutional violations are “way more serious” than any crime Edward Snowden committed in leaking secret documents.
Gore made the comments during a discussion at the Southland Conference in Nashville, Tenn., after the moderator asked whether he thought NSA leaker Ed Snowden was “a traitor or a hero.”
The former vice president rejected that dichotomy, but noted that if it were a spectrum, he would push it “more away from the traitor side.”
“He clearly violated the law,” Gore noted, “so you can’t say, ‘OK, what he did is alright.’ It’s not.”
“But what he revealed in the course of violating important laws included violations of the United States Constitution that were way more serious than the crimes that he committed,” he continued.
“So in the course of violating important laws, he also provided an important service,” Gore concluded. “Because we did need to know how far this has gone.”
Gore is a frequent cheerleader of President Obama, whose Justice Department is pursuing serious espionage charges against Snowden. As recently as last week he praised the White House, hailing stricter new EPA rules on carbon as “great news.”