Speaker of the House John Boehner accused National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden of being a “traitor” Tuesday on a “Good Morning America” interview, falling in line with the congressional mainstream condemnation of the ex-intelligence contractor.
“He’s a traitor,” the Ohio Republican said on the ABC morning show with George Stephanopoulos. “The president outlined last week that these are important national security programs to help keep Americans safe, and give us tools to fight the terrorist threat that we face.”
“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 said.
Boehner cited the divulged intelligence programs — which accumulate vast amounts of “metadata” on the mobile phone and Internet use of private American citizens — as both constitutional and falling within the “heavy oversight” administered by both the House and Senate intelligence committees on a bipartisan basis.
The speaker went on to say he had been fully briefed and aware of the programs prior to last week’s leak by the top-secret clearance wielding, 29-year-old former CIA and NSA contractor.
“There’s no American who’s going to be snooped on in any way unless they’re in contact with some terrorist somewhere around the world,” Boehner said. “Every time that I’ve been in a briefing, nine of the 10 people in the room are lawyers — there to protect the privacy of the American people.”
When asked by Stephanopoulos if he believed American’s privacy was still protected, the speaker replied “absolutely.” Since coming to light, the programs have come under intense scrutiny from critics concerned with Americans’ civil liberties in the public and media spheres.
Boehner’s language was similar to what he said during his weekly press conference last week, and like what one of his deputies, Virginia Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, said on CBS yesterday.
Further in-depth briefings concerning the program’s legality and the damage done to national security as a result of their disclosure were scheduled to take place on Capitol Hill Tuesday.