Tags: snowden | obama | leaks | nsa

Heritage Foundation's Brookes: Obama Trying to Downplay NSA Leaks

By Bill Hoffmann   |   Thursday, 27 Jun 2013 05:31 PM

President Barack Obama's dismissal of Edward Snowden as a "29-year-old hacker" not worth scrambling jets to capture is his way of downplaying the damage the young secrets-leaker has caused the nation's intelligence program, a former Defense Department official says.

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"It’s three words: 'no drama Obama.' He doesn’t want to make this a big story and he wants to try to push it to the side," Peter Brookes told "The Steve Malzberg Show on Newsmax TV.

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"[Snowden is] not a 29-year old hacker, he’s a 29-year-old spy. The government has charged him with espionage."

The U.S. has been attempting to convince Russia to hand over Snowden, who is reportedly holed up in Moscow, after leaving Hong Kong, where he fled following his leaking of classified information about the National Security Agency's collection of phone and email records.

There has been talk about the possibility the U.S. military could intercept any jet Snowden attempts to use to further elude capture.

But during a news conference in Senegal on Thursday, Obama told reporters, "I’m not going to be scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker . . . In terms of U.S. interests, the damage was done with respect to the initial leaks."

That doesn't wash with Brookes, a deputy assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Affairs under President George W. Bush and now a senior fellow in national security affairs for The Heritage Foundation.

"[Obama] doesn’t want people to get excited about it because the U.S. has had its nose tweaked by both the Chinese and the Russians. So he’s just trying to work beyond it," Brooke said.

"The fact of the matter is we've had this tremendous exposure of American intelligence capabilities. We don’t even know the extent of it at this point."

Latest: Is Snowden a Hero or Traitor – Vote in Urgent Poll

Brookes believes that with Russia and China refusing to cooperate in bringing Snowden to justice, and Ecuador, where Snowden is seeking asylum also balking, the world is thumbing its nose at the U.S.

"This dissing by the international community is the latest example of the waning of our power and influence," he said.

"I mean you think about it, nobody seems to fear the United States anymore . . . The fact of the matter is people aren’t paying attention to our warnings and it’s bad news for us."

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