Edward Snowden, who leaked classified information about the National Security Agency’s surveillance program, is “not a whistleblower,” Florida Republican Rep. Trey Radel told PJ Media.
He also connected the NSA leak to the IRS scandal, warning that if Congress gives the Obama administration “an inch, they’ll take a mile.”
Radel was asked if he agrees with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) that Snowden is “a traitor.”
“I think that he needs a fair trial. Look, in his situation, he needs to be tried, period. He violated his place of work, it’s a national security issue but he’s not a whistleblower,” responded Radel on Capitol Hill.
“Okay, we keep hearing that this guy is a whistleblower. A whistleblower would have gone through the proper channels and not moved to China to go grab headlines in newspapers and try to get the spotlight on him.”
Republican Tennessee Rep. Phil Roe told PJ Media that his constituents are “very concerned” about the NSA accessing their phone records.
“I voted against the Patriot Act. I was very concerned about habeas corpus rights and our rights as individuals and I really do believe even though you hear people talk about this person who exposed this is a traitor or whatever, I don’t believe that,” Roe said.
“I don’t think that and people out there where I live in Tennessee, 720,000 people I represent, are very concerned.”
President Obama recently said the federal government is not listening in on Americans’ phone calls.
PJ Media also asked Radel if he has any doubts about Obama’s statement.
“I don’t know but here’s what I do know. If liberals, Democrats are looking at what the IRS did, for example, and saying, you know, that’s kind of funny, that’s cute, they targeted tea parties. Here’s the problem: liberal groups will be next. I want to stand up for everyone and make sure that the executive branch is kept in check because I don’t have these answers,” he said.
Radel was able to stop by the Tuesday briefing for all members on the NSA.
“I reject the concept of ‘well, this is a way we’ve always done it.’ I have not been privy to some of the intelligence briefing that more senior level members have but as a member of Congress who believes in liberty, who believes in the Constitution, I will do whatever I can to continue to give pushback on this heavy-handed executive branch because – and I cannot stress this enough – if you give the government an inch, they’ll take a mile and if we allow all of this to just keep going and going unchecked, what happens next is what we see at the IRS,” Radel said.
He added that the information was “used for political purposes and that’s what scares me.”
Obama said on June 7 that all members were briefed on the NSA surveillance program.
Roe said he had two “classified briefings” and the “action of the NSA” was not mentioned.
“Count me in the surprised category,” Roe added.
He also expressed concern that the NSA is gathering “so much data” that it is missing critical information.
“I think you can get so much data that you can’t find out where the needle is in the haystack,” Roe said, citing Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev being under FBI surveillance and the “underwear bomber” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab being reported as a terrorist by his own father.
“People don’t trust their government now and when you don’t trust your government, we as elected officials won’t be able to govern,” said Roe.
“It’s imperative that the public understand that we’re not snooping on them, we’re not looking at their private lives and you have those protections in the Constitution.”