The failure of President Barack Obama's administration to convince China and Russia to turn over state-secrets leaker Edward Snowden shows an America losing influence in the world, Lt. Col. Oliver North tells Newsmax TV.
"We always thought that Jimmy Carter was the worst administration you could possibly have," North said. "This is Jimmy Carter on steroids."
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Despite National Security Adviser Tom Donilon's assurances that Hong Kong would turn Snowden over to the United States, Snowden was aboard a plane the same day, and is now in a Moscow airport.
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"Now we've got Putin who basically says, 'Stick it in your ear, Obama; I'm going to send the guy wherever he wants to go,'" North said. "This is a total breakdown of American credibility because everybody knows that Barack Obama doesn't mean anything he says."
The IRS targeting of conservatives, the Benghazi probe, the NSA scandal, and spying on the media all contribute to a lack of credibility for the administration, North said.
There are plenty of ways to put pressure on foreign governments to convince them to help us, North added. "Some of them are economic, some of them . . . make life difficult for the diplomats."
Though he is critical of the White House's ability to catch Snowden, North believes the PRISM program exposed by the former NSA contract worker goes further than the Patriot Act intended.
"There is no doubt we need to be able to figure out who's talking to bad people overseas," North said, but "the idea of intercepting every single American communication to do that shows first of all a broader, deeper reach than was ever intended."
Only calls to someone outside the United States were supposed to be picked up by surveillance, North said. Any calls between two phones inside the United States would be kicked out of the system.
But in the final year of the George W. Bush administration, the program was modified to pick up broader data.
"Clearly the Obama administration is now overwhelmed itself with data so that we don't even know that there's a United States Army major making phone calls to places like Yemen and sending emails to places like Yemen," North said. "We don't know that there's two Chechen youngsters in Boston who are communicating with people in Chechnya and other terrorists in other parts of the world because they've overwhelmed themselves with data."
North doesn't hold out much hope for Obama's promised cut in nuclear weapons. Obama has said that if he can get Russia on board he can bypass treaties and Congress to reduce American warheads to 1,000.
"First of all, the guy who's supposedly going to cooperate with this is Vladimir Putin," North said. "Czar Putin isn't about to do this."
Putin can see the proliferation of nuclear weapons around the world, North said, and while the Russians have modernized their weapons programs, the United States has done nothing for more than 20 years.
There is no historical record that unilateral disarmament has ever made the world safer, North said, particularly for the country that is disarming. "Even Switzerland, which has been neutral in all the wars in the last four centuries in Europe … doesn't disarm."
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