By Michael Bowman
Fugitive U.S. intelligence leaker Edward Snowden’s comments that he “already won” his battle with the National Security Agency have provoked a strong reaction from a lawmaker who oversees America’s intelligence-gathering programs.
The Washington Post quotes Edward Snowden as saying his “mission is already accomplished” as far as unveiling extensive U.S. snooping activities at home and abroad. Interviewed in Russia, where he has been granted temporary asylum, Snowden said he felt compelled to expose NSA data collection activities because, in his view, America’s elected officials had failed to supervise intelligence activities and kept invasive spying programs hidden from the public.
A member of the House Intelligence Committee, Republican Congressman Peter King, says Snowden is anything but well-meaning and patriotic.
“Edward Snowden has put American lives at risk,” he said. “He has enabled the enemy to adapt to what the NSA is doing. Edward Snowden violated his oath, betrayed his country. All he deserves is contempt.”
Snowden’s revelations have prompted a White House review of data-gathering practices, as well as outcries from U.S. allies, civil libertarians, and corporate technology giants. Snowden told The Washington Post his goal was not to bring down the NSA, but to improve it.
Congressman King says “nothing good” has come of the Snowden episode.
“So much damage has been done as far as our allies, as far as creating the illusion among the American people that their phone calls are being listened to, that their e-mails are being read – neither of which is true. The very nature of a spy agency is that we cannot have everything it does made public. And when I hear people say that somehow Snowden served a purpose, I could not disagree more. To me, he is a traitor, a defector, or both,” he said.
The NSA will come under further scrutiny when lawmakers return to Washington next month. The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a hearing to probe NSA practices and a set of proposed reforms.