A recent Pentagon report that says National Security leaker Edward Snowden committed the largest theft of intelligence secrets in U.S. history proves that "he's put American lives at risk," Rep. Peter King told Newsmax TV.
"I would certainly hope that people who somehow think that Snowden is a whistleblower or even some kind of hero or patriot will realize the extraordinary damage he's caused to our country," the New York Republican told John Bachman Thursday on "America's Forum" on Newsmax TV. "He released a larger amount of information regarding our military, regarding our defense."
"The fact is that it has definitely put Americans at risk and … the amount of information that he released regarding the phone records is only a small part of the overall information that was made available to the enemy."
"To me, someone should never be releasing this type of secret information to begin with," added King, a member of the House Intelligence Committee. "It's going to put our military at risk. It can cause Americans to lose their lives — and I just wish that more Americans would realize that and not see him as some kind of hero."
Earlier this month, the Pentagon said
in a classified report that Snowden, 30, who is now living under temporary political asylum in Russia, downloaded 1.7 million intelligence files when he worked as a contractor at the NSA's operations center in Hawaii.
He provided the classified data to news agencies after he smuggled it out on a flash drive
that had been banned from use by the agency.
Snowden has been charged with espionage by the U.S. government. He is believed to still have 1.5 million classified documents he has yet to share.
King said that even if the information Snowden stole was encrypted, "we have to assume that the Russians can break that encryption."
"There's always the possibility he's just flat-out cooperating with them, because he can only stay in Russia if the Russians allow him to," the congressman added. "He's at their mercy, so they have extraordinary leverage over him as far as gaining information."
King said that the Obama administration "should be doing a full-court press — at the very least, diplomatically" to have Snowden returned to the United States to face charges.
"When I say 'diplomatically,' I'm not talking about kind, gentlemanly diplomacy," he clarified. "I'm talking about using whatever pressure we might have on the Russians — or be willing to make some deal with the Russians — to undercut Snowden to make it their advantage for them to give him back to us, realize there could be implications in it for them."
"We really have to play tough on this," King said. "We really do."
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