Edward Snowden's new claim that the United States has tapped the phones of world leaders proves once and for all the fugitive National Security Agency contractor is a traitor to his country, former U.S. Ambassador John Bolton says.
"It doesn't bother me at all if we are listening to all of their cell phones. Let's be clear here, it is the duty of the president . . . to take steps to protect America and if that means conducting espionage, even on friends, absolutely," Bolton told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.
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"[But] this is the proof that Edward Snowden is a traitor. This release of information is intended to harm U.S. relations with its allies. It's intended to have us cut back our espionage activities.
"This is all clear anti-American activity and people need to understand that that's the real aim of all of these leaks that we're seeing now."
Snowden is a former NSA contractor, and a fugitive from justice now living in Russia, who bared classified secrets about the nation's most sensitive surveillance programs, including the collection of phone and email records.
London's Guardian newspaper this week reported on Snowden's latest revelation — that the NSA monitored the phone calls of 35 world leaders.
None of the leaders were named but one is believed to be German Chancellor Angela Merkel, triggering the German Foreign Ministry to summon U.S. Ambassador John B. Emerson to meet with Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle to discuss the report.
"The fact is, as a matter of political prudence or as a matter of resource allocations, would you rather spy on Andrea Merkel, chancellor of Germany, or 15 other people in China? I could argue the resource allocation point but, as a matter of general principle, we do what we need to do," Bolton said.
"[It] could well be that we were listening in on somebody else's phone who called Merkel and that's how that fact that the Merkel conversation came into our possession.
"It distresses me … that we have so many enemies so determined to cause us harm that they'll leak these most sensitive secrets to the press knowing how much harm it will cause our country. It is a dangerous time."
Bolton said a report that Iran is working hand in hand with Russia on nuclear weapons and may be a month away from having a nuclear bomb rings true.
"The Russians have been eager for over 10 years to build more nuclear reactors for Iran and why not? The reactors would cost between $1 and $2 billion, its good work for Russian nuclear physicists and technicians, and it makes a lot of sense for Iran," Bolton said.
"It gives them more reactors that they can use to reprocess fuel to get plutonium to build nuclear weapons … [This news] makes it inescapable to everybody but the most obtuse that Iran is continuing to make steady, sure progress toward a nuclear weapons capability and that the Obama administration's notion that they can chit chat Iran out of its weapons is fanciful."
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