Snowden expressed hope that the NSA surveillance programs will now be open to legal challenge for the first time. This year, in Amnesty International v. Clapper, the Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit against the mass collection of phone records because the plaintiffs could not prove exactly what the program did or that they were personally subject to surveillance.
“The government can’t reasonably assert the state-secrets privilege for a program it has acknowledged,” Snowden said.
Snowden’s name surfaced as top intelligence officials in the Obama administration and Congress pushed back against the journalists responsible for revealing the existence of sensitive surveillance programs and called for an investigation into the leaks.
Clapper, in an interview
with NBC that aired
Saturday night, condemned the leaker’s actions but also sought to spotlight the journalists who first reported the programs, calling their disclosures irresponsible and full of “hyperbole.” Earlier Saturday, he issued a statement accusing the media of a “rush to publish.”
“For me, it is literally — not figuratively — literally gut-wrenching to see this happen because of the huge, grave damage it does to our intelligence capabilities,” Clapper said.
On Sunday morning, before Snowden’s unmasking, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) had harsh words for the leaker and for the journalist who first reported the NSA’s collection of phone records, the Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald.
Greenwald “doesn’t have a clue how this thing works; neither did the person who released just enough information to literally be dangerous,” Rogers said on ABC’s “This Week,” adding: “I absolutely think [the leaker] should be prosecuted.”
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) agreed that whoever leaked the information should be prosecuted, and she sought to beat back media reports suggesting that the Obama administration overplayed the impact of the programs.
After opponents of the programs questioned their value last week, anonymous administration officials pointed to the thwarting of a bomb plot targeting the New York City subway system in 2009. Soon after, though, reporters noted that public documents suggested that regular police work was responsible for thwarting the attack, rather than a secret government intelligence program.
Feinstein said the programs were valuable in both the New York case and in another involving an American plotting to bomb a hotel in India in 2008. She noted that she could talk about those two cases because they have been declassified, but she suggested that the surveillance programs also assisted in other terrorism-related cases.
A chief critic of the efforts, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), said he is considering filing a lawsuit against the government and called on 10 million Americans to join in.
“I’m going to be asking all the Internet providers and all of the phone companies, ask your customers to join me in a class-action lawsuit,” Paul said on “Fox News Sunday.”
Sari Horwitz and Julie Tate contributed to this report.