FILE - This June 9, 2013 file photo provided by The Guardian Newspaper in London shows National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, in Hong Kong. Snowden says his "mission's already accomplished" after leaking NSA secrets that have caused a reassessment of U.S. surveillance policies. Snowden told The Washington Post in a story published online Monday night, Dec. 23, 2013, he has "already won" because journalists have been able to tell the story of the government's collection of bulk Internet and phone records. (AP Photo/The Guardian, Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, File)
Sunday, December 29, 2013 3:54 pm
Lawmakers dispute Snowden's declaration of victory
By KEVIN FREKINGAssociated Press
Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California acknowledged that Snowden has kindled an important public debate, but he said the former National Security Agency leaker should have stayed in the United States to demonstrate the courage of his convictions.
Republican Rep. Mike Rogers of Michigan, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Snowden's release of classified documents jeopardized the safety of troops in Afghanistan and gave nations such as China and Russia valuable insight into how America's intelligence services operate. "That's who the messenger is," Rogers said.
The two, speaking on "Fox News Sunday," were responding to Snowden's recent comments from Russia in a 14-hour interview with The Washington Post that he was working to make the NSA better, not tear it down. Snowden also made remarks in a video provided to a television station in the United Kingdom.
Schiff said it struck him that Snowden spoke from "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."
Ben Wizner of the ACLU, who said he speaks regularly with Snowden over encrypted channels, said Snowden hopes to one day return to the United States. He said the charges brought against Snowden for espionage don't distinguish between leaks to the press and the selling of state secrets to a foreign enemy. If the law allowed him to make a defense that he acted in the public's interest, "he would face trial in that kind of system," Wizner said.
"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," said Wizner, who appeared Sunday on "Meet the Press."
Snowden declared in the newspaper interview he'd "already won" and achieved what he set out to do. Wizner said Snowden's mission was to bring the public, the courts and lawmakers into a conversation about the NSA's work.
"He did his part," Wizner said. "It's now up to the public and our institutional oversight to decide how to respond."