Leading members of the House Armed Services Committee emerged from a classified briefing on the Edward Snowden leaks Wednesday afternoon “shocked” at the amount of information he reportedly leaked beyond the NSA surveillance programs.
Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), chairman of the Armed Service panel’s Intelligence, Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee and also a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said the briefing on the defense consequences of Snowden’s leaks was “very highly classified,” and therefore details couldn’t be discussed.
Thornberry did say that lawmakers “left the briefing disturbed and angered” after hearing that the leaks by the former Booz Allen Hamilton employee “went well beyond programs associated with the NSA and data collection.”
He characterized the leaks as so severe that they “compromise military capability and defense of the country” and “could cost lives” — while they “will certainly cost billions to repair.”
“His actions were espionage, plain and simple,” Thornberry said.
Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) read his statement rather than making comments on the fly “because of the seriousness of this issue and the sensitivity” of the information they’d just heard.
“Ed Snowden isn’t a whistleblower; he’s a traitor,” McKeon said.
No matter what opinion people hold of the data collection programs, he added, people should be “shocked and outraged to find that a substantial amount of the information has nothing to do with the NSA.”
“He’s given our enemies an edge and put American lives at risk,” said the chairman.
McKeon said Americans should “demand” that Snowden be “brought to justice” and not be extended any sort of deal by the government.