Wednedsay night on PBS NewsHour, Vietnam War era whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg and former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey debated the case of Edward Snowden.
Ellsberg, who was tried under the Espionage Act for leaking the Pentagon Papers, said Snowden was right to leak information about the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs.
“My concern is that the very existence of this kind of capability chills free speech in a disastrous way,” he said. “Moreover, my even larger concern is, I don’t see how democracy can survive when one branch, the executive branch, has all the personal communications of every member of Congress, and every judge, every member of the judiciary, as well as the press, the fourth estate that I have just been describing. I don’t see how the blackmail capability that’s involved there can be — will not be abused, as it has happened in the past, including to me, by the way, and to other — and to journalists.”
Mukasey, who served under the Bush administration, said Snowden was a criminal who wrongly harmed national security and aided U.S. enemies.
“I guess I join with Mr. Ellsberg in saying he’s not a traitor, but only because he hasn’t committed treason as defined in the Constitution. He is, however, a criminal by his own admission,” Mukasey said.
Ellsburg concluded that NSA whistleblowers Russell Tice, William Binney, Thomas Drake, and Kirk Wiebe should be brought before Congress to testify about “unconstitutional and criminal” surveillance programs, while Mukasey concluded Snowden should face trial in the United States for his alleged crimes.
Watch video, uploaded to YouTube, below: