House Speaker John Boehner assailed as a “traitor” 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 today 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, 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. Booz Allen fired Snowden today.
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— we— 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.’’
Snowden’s disclosures to the Guardian newspaper of Great Britain and the Washington Post are likely the most extensive leaks of national security documents since 1971 when Daniel Ellsberg, a onetime Pentagon analyst, provided the New York Times with thousands of pages of Pentagon documents that raised questions about whether President Lyndon B. Johnson and his aides had told Americans the truth about the U.S. involvement in Vietnam.
Snowden reportedly has fled to Hong Kong, although there were unconfirmed reports he had left the former British colony. While Boehner and Feinstein have been sharply critical of him, civil libertarians have hailed him as a hero for exposing what they claim was an overly broad effort by the Obama administration to gather phone records of people who had not links to terrorism.
Obama and his aides have insisted that while the NSA was collecting millions of phone records, the agency was not monitoring the conversations of the calls.