In a recent Washington Post interview, Edward Snowden declared mission “accomplished,” stating he had “already won” and achieved what he’d set out to do. Snowden claimed he was trying to improve the security agency by ending broad NSA surveillance, but lawmakers Sunday offered a mixed reaction.
Appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” Congressman Mike Rogers (R-MI), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Edward Snowden did serious national security damage to the U.S. when he released a score of classified documents over the summer.
Rogers said his actions out the safety of troops in Afghanistan at risk, while providing China and Russia invaluable intelligence surrounding U.S. intelligence services and how they conduct intelligence.
“That’s who the messenger is,” Rogers told Chris Wallace, criticizing how Snowden appeared on British TV Christmas Day before heading back to Russia, after taking refuge in some of the hostile nations to the United States.
Federal prosecutors have officially charged Edward Snowden with espionage.
Lawmakers’ reactions to the appearance by Edward Snowden came just as two federal judge rulings on the NSA collection of metadata from Americans’ phone calls, which contradicted each other, leading one legal adviser to Snowden to predict that the Supreme Court will ultimately have the final say on government spying.
On December 16, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., stated the NSA phone record collection program “likely violates the Constitution.” However, in contradiction last week, a federal judge in New York ruled the NSA data collection program is legally within the bounds of the Constitution, particularly regarding Fourth Amendment rights to privacy.
The ACLU’s Ben Wizner immediately released a statement claiming they would appeal the decision, saying Sunday he also believes the issue will make its way through appeals courts and to the Supreme Court.
“It’s now a question for the Supreme Court to weigh in on,” Wizner said on “Meet The Press.”
Wizner revealed he talks frequently with Edward Snowden using encrypted channels. According to Wizner, Snowden hopes that he can one day return to the United States, which Wizner believes is possible, because the espionage charges are vague. Wizner claims they don’t distinguish between leaks to the press and the selling of state secrets to a foreign enemy.
For Edward Snowden to get his wish, a court would have to allow him to argue that he acted in the public’s interest, and according to Wizner, “he would face trial in that kind of system.”
“For now, he doesn’t believe and I don’t believe that the cost of his act of conscience should be a life behind bars,” Wizner said.
Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA), a member of the House Intelligence Committee chaired by Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), conceded that Snowden has started an important, national public debate on the topic of weighing national security against privacy rights. However, unlike the approach taken by Edward Snowden, who ran to some of American’s most dangerous competitors, said he should have stayed in the U.S. to demonstrate the courage of his convictions.
Schiff, who also appeared on “Fox News Sunday” with Chris Wallace, he found it ironic that Snowden is forced to appear in “one of the foremost big brother states in the world, where he is living without any privacy, because there’s no right or expectation of privacy in Russia whatsoever. So I don’t find his message particularly moving or appealing.”
NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake and Edward Snowden’s legal advisor Jesselyn Radack, both appeared on “Face The Nation” Sunday to explain why they believe the NSA leaker wouldn’t get a fair hearing in the United States.