Calling him a “traitor,” House Speaker John Boehner launched a sharp attack on the former analyst who leaked to news organizations that the National Security Agency had collected millions of phone records of Americans and foreigners in an effort to combat potential terrorist attacks.
In an interview Tuesday on ABC’s “Good Morning America,’’ Boehner, R-West Chester Twp., said that 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.’’
By doing so, Boehner joined Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., in becoming the first senior lawmakers on Capitol Hill to accuse Edward Snowden, a contractor with the defense consulting firm Booz Allen, of committing treason.
Other Ohio lawmakers declined to go as far as Boehner. Meghan Dubyak, a spokeswoman for Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said “it certainly appears that Mr. Snowden broke the law.’’
Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, agrees that Snowden broke the law.
“From what I know at this point, what he released has the potential to aid our enemies, so that at the very minimum, I’d call him a criminal who needs to be brought to justice,” Portman said.
Columbus-area Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Genoa Twp., said officials from both parties believe that “by disclosing details of these national security programs, Edward Snowden has broken the law,’’ adding that the NSA collection of phone records “have been used to prevent terrorist attacks.’’
But Tiberi added that “my colleagues and I need a better understanding of what data is collected and what is being done with it. We need to make sure we do an adequate job of protecting Fourth Amendment rights guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution.”
A spokesman for Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, said the lawmaker would not comment.
By contrast, Boehner showed no hesitation in attacking Snowden. Boehner said he had “been briefed on all these programs,’’ adding that “there’s no American who’s gonna be snooped on in any way, unless they’re in contact with some terrorists somewhere around the world.’’
Boehner said that President Barack Obama “outlined last week that these were important national security programs to help keep Americans safe.’’ The Ohio Republican said “that when you look at this program and what it does … you’ll find that we protect the privacy of the American people, while at the same time, giving us tools to keep Americans safe and to go after the terrorist.’’
Watch video of Boehner’s remarks at DaytonDailyNews.com