WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — Former Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan has harsh words for the Obama administration’s handling of the National Security Agency leaker.
Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan tells “CBS This Morning” that the way the White House has been dealing with former defense contractor Edward Snowden is “incompetent.”
“It just reveals an administration that seems more and more incompetent by the day,” Ryan said. “How is it that our security clearances are so low that something like this can happen?”
Snowden fled Hong Kong Sunday for Moscow, reportedly staying at the international airport. He was expected to be on a flight to Havana, Cuba, but has not shown as he is seeking asylum in Ecuador.
Ryan says the United States is losing some of its global luster with Russia and China brazenly refusing to cooperate with federal officials.
“If we’re not able to convince our allies or other countries to actually help us with this, that doesn’t speak very well to how we’re being viewed in the world,” Ryan said. “That doesn’t speak very well to our credibility.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov lashed out at U.S. officials over their demands for the extradition of Snowden.
Lavrov said that accusing Russia of “violation of U.S. laws and even some sort of conspiracy” with regard to Snowden is “absolutely ungrounded and unacceptable.”
A one-page criminal complaint unsealed last Friday in federal court in Alexandria, Va., says Snowden engaged in unauthorized communication of national defense information and willful communication of classified communications intelligence information. Both are charges under the Espionage Act. Snowden also is charged with theft of government property. All three crimes carry a maximum 10-year prison penalty.
The federal court in the Eastern District of Virginia where the complaint was filed is headquarters for Snowden’s former employer, government contractor Booz Allen Hamilton.
Snowden leaked top-secret classified government information to The Guardian and The Washington Post about the NSA’s surveillance programs.
One program collects billions of U.S. phone records. The second gathers audio, video, email, photographic and Internet search usage of foreign nationals overseas, and probably some Americans in the process, who use major providers such as Microsoft, Google, Apple, and Yahoo.
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