Boehner: 9 out of 10 people in NSA briefings are lawyers to protect ‘privacy’
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) joined the chorus excoriating National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden in an interview with ABC News on Tuesday.
“He’s a traitor,” Boehner told host George Stephanopoulos, according to a transcript released Tuesday morning. “The disclosure of this information puts Americans at risk. It shows our adversaries what our capabilities are. And it’s a giant violation of the law.”
Snowden, a 29-year-old former contractor who worked with the NSA through outside agencies for four years, revealed his identity in a June 9 interview with The Guardian, saying he was the primary source for a series of article outlining the agency’s information-gathering practices involving private citizens’ phone records and internet usage. Reuters reported on Monday that he had vanished from the Hong Kong hotel in which he had been staying.
Boehner told Stephanopoulos that, having been briefed on programs like PRISM, he agreed with President Barack Obama that there were enough safeguards in place for them to remain constitutional.
“There’s no American who’s gonna be snooped on in any way, unless they’re in contact with some terrorists somewhere around the world,” Boehner said in the interview.
Boehner also expressed confidence that the program had been sufficiently vetted against legal concerns.
“Every time that I’ve been in a briefing, 9 of the 10 people in a room are lawyers there to protect the privacy of the American people,” he said to Stephanopoulos.
Boehner did demur when Stephanopoulos asked if he supported National Intelligence Committee chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) call for a review of the agency, saying he would let the committees in the Senate and House decide the matter. Feinstein has labeled Snowden’s revelations “an act of treason,” while National Intelligence Director James Clapper confirmed that the agency was seeking a criminal investigation into Snowden’s activities.
Watch footage from ABC’s interview with Boehner, aired Tuesday, below.