Edward Snowden is a "traitor" who has "committed an act of war against the United States," former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton said in an exclusive interview with Newsmax.
The self-confessed leaker of top-secret documents detailing the National Security Agency's phone- and Internet-surveillance programs is a "deceitful and dishonest man" who violated oaths he undertook to keep secret classified information about a program approved by all three branches of the government to protect Americans, Bolton added.
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"Treason is the only crime defined in the Constitution and it talks about waging war against the United States -- which this is -- and giving aid and comfort to our enemies, and God knows they've gotten a lot of aid and comfort from this release," Bolton said in the interview with Newsmax TV.
"Let me ask, who died and made him king? Who gave him the authority to endanger 300 million Americans? That's not the way it works, and if he thinks he can get away with that, he's got another think coming."
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Bolton pointed out that treason is punishable by death, but accepted that it is unlikely the Justice Department would charge Snowden with espionage. However, he said the now-fired Booz Allen Hamilton contractor should be prosecuted to the fullest extent possible.
"If he gets a jail sentence it ought to be about five life terms running consecutively."
Bolton defended the NSA program, saying it was unlike scandals involving the IRS targeting conservative groups or the cover-up of the killings in Benghazi, Libya, where President Barack Obama's administration may have been using the power of government for political purposes.
Bolton said he could see why the NSA program has a 60 percent favorability rating among Americans, according to a Washington Post-Pew Research poll.
"The American people understand that we are threatened not just by terrorists but, for example, by China's incredible cyberwarfare capabilities. … Technology is a wonderful thing, but it has its upsides and downsides, and America needs to be defended," he said.
"Here, the power of government is being used to protect innocent American civilians."
Bolton said Obama's poor management style is part of the problem with the way the NSA leak has been handled.
"This is a real failing of Barack Obama, who before becoming elected president had never managed anything bigger than a Senate office and it almost seems like he doesn't even know where part of his federal government is.
"I'm wondering really if he understood or paid attention when he was being told about these various NSA programs," he said.
Bolton also reflected on recent CBS News reports that the State Department may have covered up allegations of misconduct and illegal activities, including an underground drug ring, sexual assault, and the hiring of prostitutes by members of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's security detail.
"The culture of the State Department is very self-protective, but having investigation after investigation quashed really raises a lot of questions about what's going on," he said. "I've lost count of how many scandals we've got going at the moment -- but on a clear day this would be a scandal big enough to rock any administration, and it'll have its impact here."
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He said that while Clinton was seemingly adept at keeping her "fingerprints off" the issue by having her chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, intervene, it's likely she was aware of what was happening and was involved in decisions to keep the issue quiet, as she likely was about the Benghazi scandal.
"Whether it's Benghazi or this allegation," he said, "it goes right back to the secretary's office door and [it's] very hard to see how it doesn't end up right on her desk."
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