NSA Panel Member: Edward Snowden Guilty of 'Treason, High Crimes'

Saturday, 21 Dec 2013 11:08 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden is guilty of treason and high crimes, a member of a White House panel examining the agency's vast surveillance operations says.

"What Mr. [Edward] Snowden did is treason, was high crimes, and there is nothing in what we say that justifies what he did,” Richard Clarke, a former White House counterterrorism adviser, who is now an ABC News consultant, told the network news.

"Whether or not this panel would have been created anyway, I don’t know, but I don’t think anything that I’ve learned justifies the treasonous acts of Mr. Snowden."

Earlier this week, the five-member panel of experts appointed by President Barack Obama recommended ending the NSA's program that collects Americans' telephone records, saying the practice does not prevent attacks but causes a "lurking danger of abuse."

Snowden remains in Russia after downloading and stealing about 1.7 million confidential documents before he fled to Hong Kong and turned information over to former Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald and others.

One of the first major reports was about how the NSA has authority to store details such as origin, destination, and duration of calls from Americans. A federal judge ruled that the practice is unconstitutional, ABC reports.

Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul told CNN Wednesday that he thinks Director of National Intelligence James Clapper is guilty of "lying" to Congress about NSA surveillance programs.

Clapper at first told lawmakers that the NSA does not collect Americans' information, and later admitted his statement was "clearly erroneous."

“I think the law is the law and they both broke the law and one shouldn’t get off scot free,” Paul said.

A spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Saturday that U.S. contracting companies should be barred from passing sensitive data to the NSA, reports Reuters.

In addition, Hans-Peter Uhl, parliamentary spokesman on interior policy for Merkel's conservative party, said the German government wants to monitor U.S. contracting companies, such as the one that hired Snowden, more closely in the future.

Among Snowden's reports were documents showing the NSA has also tapped phones and emails in Europe, including Merkel's cell phone, sparking outrage in Germany.

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