House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi wants NSA leaker Edward Snowden to "face the music" on espionage charges, but she doesn't believe he's a traitor," she told the Los Angeles Times
“I’m not of the school that says he’s a traitor,” Pelosi said in an interview with the newspaper's editorial board. "I’m saying he broke the law, he should face the music, whatever that means.”
Federal prosecutors have filed a criminal complaint
against Snowden for leaking a trove of top-secret surveillance programs he stole while working for the NSA.
Pelosi said Snowden should stand trial or reach a plea deal.
“If the idea was: American people, you should know … they are collecting metadata about your phone -- who you call, not what you say but who you call -- people would say, ‘Thank God you told me that.’ There’s a case that can be made for that,” she said.
“But to take all that information and make it public -- hacking on [German leader Angela] Merkel,
this and that, that was not a good faith thing. But that wasn’t breaking the law.
"Breaking the law was taking the stuff. You broke the law, come back," she said.
Sen. John McCain, R-Az., has since called on
National Security Agency chief Keith Alexander to quit over the damage done to U.S.-German relations by revelations that the NSA may have tapped Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone.
Pelosi continued, "I am annoyed that he [Snowden] made so much of it public -- that it’s an embarrassment to our country and I didn’t think that was a patriotic thing to do, but I share the sympathy that some people have, that ‘I’m glad he found out that they knew who I was calling and he let me know.’ They are two different things …. Is it espionage to let the American people know that they are being spied upon? ... I don’t know the facts.”
Pelosi said the fact that Snowden fled to countries eager to garner American information like Chinese-controlled Hong Kong and Russia, where he is now, could “hurt his cause."
She castigated lax NSA security that allowed the former contractor to collect so much data. “I’m appalled by the fact that he was able to walk out of the building with all that he did, or however he got it out,” she said, adding she believed Snowden couldn't have done it, "without some collaboration” from others, whether it was unintentionally.
“Something is very wrong with the system. In any event it happened; it’s ridiculous that it happened. Somebody should be in trouble for that and I want to know who's responsible for that,” she said.
On the "Tonight Show with Jay Leno," Thursday, House Speaker John A. Boehner called Snowden a "traitor."
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