The chairman of the House Subcommittee on Counterintelligence and Terrorism says  that journalists who exposed controversial surveillance programs should be punished.

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) told CNN late Tuesday that it's fair to punish both the leakers and those who publish the information.

"If they willingly knew that this was classified information, I think actions should be taken, especially something of this magnitude," King said. "I think, with something of this magnitude, there is an obligation -- both moral, but also legal -- against a reporter disclosing something which would so severely compromise national security."

King then responded directly to the question about punishing journalists: "The answer is yes, to your question."

King also called leaker Edward Snowden a "traitor," arguing that he violated the Espionage Act.

The news of the National Security Agency's phone record collection was broken by the Guardian's Glenn Greenwald, and the so-called PRISM program was disclosed by Greenwald and the Washington Post's Barton Gellman and Laura Poitras.