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Mr. Rubio pressed her to explain what crimes the United States had committed or sponsored in Rwanda.

Ms. Power sidestepped the question, saying only: “I think this is the greatest country on Earth. I — we have nothing to apologize for.”

“But do you believe the United States has committed or sponsored crimes?” Mr. Rubio asked.

She repeated that she believed the United States is the greatest country on Earth.

Ms. Power did no repudiate her demand for an accounting of U.S. crimes but suggested she “would absolutely” have stated it differently.


President Obama last month dismissed any suggestion that he should get involved in bringing Edward Snowden to justice for disclosing top-secret National Security Agency programs and documents obtained while he worked as a computer technician contractor for the agency.

The president appeared to be signaling to the U.S. and international press that dealing with the illegal release of U.S. secrets and getting a leaker to face prosecution was something below his paygrade.

“I’m not going to be scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker,” Mr. Obama said June 27 at a news conference in Senegal during his weeklong trip to Africa.

“I’m not going to have one case with a suspect who we’re trying to extradite suddenly be elevated to the point where I’ve got to start doing wheeling and dealing and trading on a whole host of other issues, simply to get a guy extradited so he can face the justice system.”

That apparently changed Friday when Russian President Vladimir Putin called Mr. Obama to discuss the Snowden case.

The White House “readout” of the call said the two leaders spoke about “the status of Mr. Edward Snowden” among other issues.

Asked if the president asked Mr. Putin to return Mr. Snowden, White House National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden did not answer directly.

“Our message to every country continues to be that there is a legal basis to expel Edward Snowden back to the U.S., and we want to see that happen without delay,” she said.

Russia made clear on Wednesday that it would not return the renegade NSA contractor, who has requested temporary asylum in Moscow.

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