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Congressman: ‘Awarding the Pulitzer to Snowden Enablers Is a Disgrace’

Traitor or hero, the debate sparked by the former contractor's leaks has staying power on the Hill and into 2016.

Bridget Johnson


April 14, 2014 - 4:55 pm
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“I see all the intelligence and all the evidence from everything from his activities leading up to this event to very suspicious activity during the event,” the Intelligence chairman told NBC on March 23, adding that in considering if Snowden is engaging in espionage “when you talk to the folks who are doing the investigation, they cannot rule it out.”

“No counter-intelligence official in the United States does not believe that Mr. Snowden, the NSA contractor, is not under the influence of Russian intelligence services. We believe he is. I certainly believe he is today,” Rogers continued. “So now we all agree that he’s under the influence of Russian intelligence services today for the investigators, they need to figure out, when did that influence start and was he interested in cooperating earlier than the timeline would suggest. So you’re talking to a guy who stole information who is now in the arms of intelligence services saying, well, gosh, whatever you guys say is absurd. Only I can define the truth. That’s ridiculous on its face.”

“I do believe there’s more to this story. He is under the influence of Russian intelligence officials today. He’s actually supporting in an odd way this very activity of brazen brutality in expansionism of Russia. He needs to understand that. And I think Americans need to understand that. We need to put it in proper context.”

But the impact of Snowden’s revelations still reverberates across the Hill, and promises to emerge on the 2016 campaign trail, as well.

Lawmakers continue to pursue Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, asking Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate his false testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence last year.

Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), Ted Poe (R-Texas), Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), Raul Labrador (R-Idaho), and Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) asked Holder to open a probe in December, and Sensenbrenner noted to Holder this month that he hadn’t  even responded to the request.

“On March 12, 2013, Senator Ron Wyden asked Director Clapper, ‘Does the N.S.A. collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?’ Director Clapper answered ‘No, Sir.’ Wyden pressed, ‘It does not?’ Clapper replied, ‘There are cases where they could inadvertently perhaps collect, but not wittingly,’” Sensenbrenner wrote.

“Now declassified documents reveal that Director Clapper’s testimony was false, and further, that he knew it was false when it was offered. Congress is currently considering proposals regarding intelligence reform. In considering these proposals, we need assurances that we can adequately conduct oversight following new legislation. Congressional oversight, however, depends on truthful testimony. Intelligence officials cannot be permitted to lie with impunity.”

Paul is making the misdeeds of NSA surveillance a cornerstone of appearances, particularly with young people, that could pave his way for a presidential run.

The senator fired up crowds from CPAC to UC Berkeley last month. “I look into the eyes of senators and I think I see real fear,” he told the Berkeley crowd. “I think I perceive fear of an intelligence community drunk with power, unrepentant and uninclined to relinquish power.”

Over the weekend, he told reporters in early primary state New Hampshire that “we can’t have an intelligence community that can do whatever the hell they want.”

“I’ve not heard a peep from her about protecting privacy or civil liberties,” Paul added of potential 2016 Democratic contender Hillary Clinton. “Will she finally see that the American people are upset about this? Maybe, but she’ll be coming quite late to the scene and she’ll be part of an administration that had total disregard for the Fourth Amendment.”

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Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.