Eric Holder, former attorney general under Barack Obama, said in a recent interview that Edward Snowden performed a “public service” when he leaked U.S. intelligence surveillance capabilities.
In an interview with David Axelrod on “The Axe Files” podcast, Holder said, “We had the capacity to do a whole range of things under these listening programs, but after a while, I remember sending memos to the president and asking, ‘Do we really need to do this, given the way in which we are focusing on people’s lives and given the return that we were getting?’ Which was not, I think in any ways substantial.”
“We can certainly argue about the way in which Snowden did what he did, but I think that he actually performed a public service by raising the debate that we engaged in and by the changes that we made.”
“Now I would say that doing what he did — and the way he did it — was inappropriate and illegal,” Holder claimed. “He could have gone to Congress and done these kinds of things.”
Holder went on to say that Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor, should serve time in jail if he is ever brought back to America because “harmed American interests.”
“He’s broken the law, in my view. He needs to get lawyers, come on back, and decide, see what he wants to do: Go to trial, try to cut a deal. I think there has to be a consequence for what he has done,” Holder continued. “But I think in deciding what an appropriate sentence should be, I think a judge could take into account the usefulness of having had that national debate.”
The former attorney general added that what Snowden did by leaking classified information put Americans “at risk, relationships with other countries were harmed, our ability to keep the American people safe was compromised.”
“There were all kinds of re-dos that had to be put in place as a result of what he did, and while those things were being done we were blind in certain area, in certain really critical areas. So what he did was not without consequence.”