- The Washington Times - Monday, June 24, 2013

Rep. Peter T. King said Monday that while he’s hesitant to second-guess a president in the middle of an ongoing crisis, President Obama should have been out in front more on the NSA leak case, talking to the American people more effectively about exactly why the country is using broad surveillance techniques and letting the Chinese and the Russians know that being complicit in protecting self-identified leaker Edward Snowden will not be tolerated.

“I hate to be in the middle of a crisis second-guessing a president, but where is he? Where is the president?” Mr. King, New York Republican, said Monday on CNN. “Why is he not speaking to the American people? Why is he not more forceful with dealing with foreign leaders?”

At an event in India, Secretary of State John F. Kerry responded to the latest developments by saying it would be “deeply troubling” if Russia or Hong Kong had advance notice of Mr. Snowden’s plans and still allowed him to leave, the AP reported.

The U.S. has revoked Mr. Snowden’s passport, and he was not seen on a flight bound to Cuba from Russia that had been booked on Monday.

A spokesman for the Kremlin told The Wall Street Journal that Russian authorities were unaware that Mr. Snowden was coming.

“It is not a question for us,” said Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for President Vladimir Putin. “We don’t know what his plans are and we were unaware he was coming here.”

Mr. King, former chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said Hong Kong’s decision not to extradite Mr. Snowden was entirely political.

“This was strictly a political decision, and I can’t believe Hong Kong would have made it without China encouraging it or certainly acquiescing in it,” Mr. King said. “As far as tipping the balance, we have to take a much tougher attitude with China, certainly don’t give them the benefit of the doubt on issues, whether it involves trade, whether it involves currency or whatever, we have to step back and say that business cannot go on as usual. This is really up to the president to be more aggressive and to know how to play his cards better than I think he has until now.”

Just after midnight Monday, National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said the administration is disappointed by the decision of authorities in Hong Kong to allow Mr. Snowden to flee, and it expects Russia “to look at all options available to expel Mr. Snowden back to the U.S. to face justice for the crimes with which he is charged.”

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