Leaking information about the government's phone and Internet surveillance is a "hostile act" deserving of prosecution, political analyst and Democratic pollster Douglas Schoen tells Newsmax.
The surveillance and other scandals rocking Washington, he added, have made the Obama presidency "an administration in crisis."
Schoen is a Newsmax contributor and author. His latest book is "Hopelessly Divided: The New Crisis in American Politics and What it Means for 2012 and Beyond."
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Former CIA analyst and defense contractor Edward Snowden has admitted leaking details of the National Security Agency's surveillance operations but claims he did nothing wrong.
In an exclusive interview Monday with Newsmax TV, Schoen was asked how the Obama administration should deal with Snowden.
"I have big problems, as do many citizens, with the whole nature and scope of this surveillance problem, but Mr. Snowden has clearly violated his oath to the United States," he said.
"This is certainly a hostile act and deserving of investigation and arguable prosecution.
"The Republicans want to avoid overreaching. They don't want to appear being too extreme. On the other hand, if you violate secrets, if you violate your professional responsibility, you have to be held accountable, and Mr. Snowden falls into that category."
Cybersecurity was a big topic of discussion during a weekend summit between President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping. Asked how much this surveillance issue hurts the president’s credibility with Xi and the Chinese, Schoen responds: "The president has made it clear that he has opposed President Bush's warrantless wiretapping and now we see the breadth and depth and scope of his own program. It probably exceeds substantially President Bush's.
"So it makes the president look like a hypocrite and probably makes it tougher to deal with foreign nations like China."
The Obama-Xi meeting "was an introductory, shirtsleeves meeting," Schoen says.
"There was at least agreement that we have to make North Korea a nuclear-free nation. That's good. No real agreement on cybersecurity. That's bad.
"[It was] a first meeting. Hopefully it will provoke ongoing discussion about trade and currency manipulation."
On the cybersecurity issue, Schoen tells Newsmax: "From what I read of the account of the summit so far, no go. The Chinese deny they're involved. We believe that there's state-sponsored cyber hacking and clear industrial espionage, and until we resolve those differences it's going to be pretty tough to reach an agreement."
Turning to the IRS scandal, Schoen referred to the heated rhetoric on weekend talk shows between House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa and ranking member Elijah Cummings: "I heard what Congressman Cummings said, and to say that the matter is closed when you have people in Cincinnati saying it was a Washington operation and people in Washington and the IRS saying it was Cincinnati and with [then-IRS Commissioner] Douglas Shulman having gone to the White House 158 times, I'm of the view that this is much more close to the beginning than the end.
"The Democrats have an incentive in wanting to close it down, but from where I sit, there are lots of unanswered questions."
On immigration reform, Schoen said, the need is for bipartisanship.
"Hopefully on immigration reform we'll get it. I was heartened that [Republican Sen.] Kelly Ayotte from New Hampshire was the first non-author of the bill to sign on to immigration reform, so hopefully we can have some successful examples of bipartisanship that point a way for the future."
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Ayotte's poll numbers seemed to take a hit after her opposition to gun-control legislation. Schoen believes her support of immigration reform is an attempt to win back favor among moderates who support gun control.
"I'm certain it is, and I would say if her ill-considered vote on something like background checks — which is pretty noncontroversial — promotes and provokes her to vote for immigration reform, all for the good."
In recent editorials, The Washington Post declared that Attorney General Eric Holder is not up to the task and The New York Times said the Obama administration has lost all credibility. As to how much attention the administration is paying to those editorials, Schoen says: "Huge attention on the Times and the Post editorial line, that's for sure.
"Bottom line in this case: You have an administration that has its agenda dead in the water. Three scandals, the oversight by the NSA — this is an administration in crisis."
Asked if the administration is truly dead in the water, Schoen opines: "I wouldn't say dead in the water, but certainly moving in the wrong direction."
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