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Rep. Mike Rogers: NSA leak case raises questions about China’s role
Question of the Day
Current and former Washington officials Sunday slammed the leaker who exposed the government’s secret collection of phone records and Internet data and vigorously defended the surveillance programs as essential and life-saving tools in the war on terrorism.
The chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence was one of several Republicans who blitzed the Sunday talk shows to slam Mr. Snowden, the 29-year-old leaker believed to still be in hiding in the Chinese territory of Hong Kong.
“It goes beyond the bounds of him trying to claim that he’s a whistleblower, which he is not. A whistleblower comes to the appropriate authorities … so that we can investigate any possible claim,” Mr. Rogers said in an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “He didn’t do that. He grabbed up information, he made preparations to go to China, and then he collected it up, bolted to China.”
Mr. Snowden shook the American intelligence community earlier this month by leaking highly classified material about the NSA’s anti-terrorism programs that he stole while working as a contractor. He said he revealed information about the programs because he believes the government had crossed a line by spying on Americans.
Mr. McDonough said President Obama was at first “pretty skeptical” when he learned of the programs, but he said the president believes they are necessary to protect the American people.
Mr. Rogers said the government’s collection of “metadata” is necessary and strictly limited in scope.
“They’re not listening to Americans phone calls, they’re not reading Americans’ emails,” Mr. Rogers said. “We have huge privacy protections on these things.”
Metadata from Americans swept up in the surveillance of terrorism suspects is held under careful safeguards, he said, in a “lock box” that can only be accessed if it becomes relevant to investigations.
“This is a lock box with only phone numbers, no names, no addresses in it, we’ve used it sparingly,” Mr. Rogers said.
Still, the program’s reach is too invasive, said Sen. Mark Udall, Colorado Democrat. “I just don’t think this is an American approach,” he said on “Meet the Press.” “I don’t think collecting millions and millions of Americans’ phone calls is making us any safer.”
“Well, I’m suspicious, of course,” Mr. Cheney said. “It’s not a place where you would normally go if you are interested in freedom of speech.”
The former British colony reverted to Chinese sovereignty in 1997 but has some features of statehood, including an extradition treaty with the U.S., a pact China itself doesn’t have. But Beijing has the right to veto extraditions on national security and diplomatic grounds.
Mr. Graham, appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” said, “We need this program and he’s compromised it, and he should be held accountable.”
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About the Author
Tim Devaney is a national reporter who covers business and international trade for The Washington Times. Previously, he worked for the Detroit News, Grand Rapids Press, Portland Press Herald and Bangor Daily News. Tim can be reached at email@example.com.
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