Already Fearing Sequestration, Contractors Could Feel Impact from Leaks

"The arrest of Mr. Bishop is just the first step in what is going to be a long process, and we are actively continuing the investigation to determine the roles of all those involved in this case," U.S. Attorney Florence Nakakuni said at the time of the arrest.

In 2011, Noshir Gowadia, a onetime design engineer for Northrop Grumman, was sentenced to 32 years in prison for selling "some of our country’s most sensitive weapons-related designs" to China, according to the Justice Department.

Republicans on the Hill who were mixed about what Snowden leaked zeroed in on where he fled as a key point of concern. On Monday, Snowden reportedly checked out of a hotel in Hong Kong.

"This person is dangerous to the country," Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) said on CNN. "He had, I think, real questions as to why he left the CIA. The fact he's in China right now, or Hong Kong, which is a sub-state of China. He knows who our intelligence assets, who our intelligence agents are around the world. The fact he has allowed our enemy to know our sources and methods is extremely dangerous. I believe we should prosecute him to the fullest extent of the law. I consider him right now to be a defector."

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said this morning on CBS that the question of how Snowden had the clearance he did is one of the questions for which "we need answers."

"There's no question about that. You have a contractor that has been hired, who is then hired, this 29-year-old, who's now holed up in some hotel room in Hong Kong, claiming to be the defender of democracy somehow in the people's Republic of China. We don't know the answers right now," Cantor said.

"…There are two things going on here. One is the program itself. And two, what exactly this individual Mr. Snowden has done with this information?" he continued. "…It seems to me that he chose a route to go to a reporter, yet holed up in some room in Hong Kong. And that ought to tell you something, as well."

Hong Kong's asylum law, in a system independent from China, could keep Snowden there for months to years even if a U.S. effort to extradite him is successful.

"We should begin extradition proceedings as soon as possible. We do have an extradition treaty with Hong Kong," King said. "My concern is that in the meantime, China could be holding him and getting information as to what he knows about our assets around the world."

Rep. Luke Messer (R-Ind.) told MSNBC that weighing the information leaked versus the actual act of leaking itself is "a difficult ethical dilemma."

"Our system of security can't work if folks who have access to classified information are allowed willy-nilly on their own to decide what to leak, so the young man's going to have to be prosecuted," Messer said. "And then we as policy makers are going to have to respond to the information we now have."