DALLAS,June 17, 2013 — In an Internet Q&A for The Guardian, NSA-leaker Edward Snowden responded to Dick Cheney calling him a traitor on Fox News Sunday. Kimberly Dozier, and Intelligence and Counterterrorism writer for AP and former CBS News Baghdad correspondent asked Snowden via Twitter:
Snowden replied that each time public discussion emerges, U.S. officials provide misleading, false assertions about the program’s value. He encouraged journalists to ask what specific terrorist attacks were thwarted solely by suspicionless surveillance that could not be gained other ways. Then he said Americans should inquire whether such wholesale privacy violations against innocent citizens are worth the sacrifice.
He then addressed Cheney’s comments that he was a traitor for violating his position to “damage the national security interests of theUnited States.”
Snowden responded, “It’s important to bear in mind I’m being called a traitor by men like former Vice President Dick Cheney. This is a man who gave us the warrantless wiretapping scheme as a kind of atrocity warm-up on the way to deceitfully engineering a conflict that has killed over 4,400 and maimed nearly 32,000 Americans, as well as leaving over 100,000 Iraqis dead.
“Being called a traitor by Dick Cheney is the highest honor you can give an American. If they had taught a class on how to be the kind of citizen Dick Cheney worries about, I would have finished high school.”
Cheney’s choice to criticize Snowden as a traitor is rather interesting. A war crime is defined as an action carried out during the conduct of a war that violates accepted international rules of war. War criminals are those who sanction, supervise, perform or defend illegal actions.
In April, an independent, bi-partisan Washington-based panel implicated Cheney in violations of U.S. law and international treaties for sanctioning “enhanced interrogation” which produced minimal information of value. The former Vice President was tried and found guilty in absentia of war crimes last year in an international court. Human rights groups abroad protest his appearances so passionately that he has difficulty traveling abroad.
Though Cheney swore an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, he justifies the Bush administration’s destruction of constitutional rule of law and asserts that torture, extrajudicial kidnapping and detention, the militarization of America’s justice system, and the erosion of the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments were necessary to keep America safe.
Last Sunday, he also alleged the NSA surveillance programs Snowden exposed could have prevented September 11th terrorist attacks. The former Vice President also said he was “suspicious” the whistleblower was a Chinese government operative.
Snowden rejected Cheney’s assertion his flight to Hong Kong was because he spies forChina.
“Ask yourself: if I were a Chinese spy, why wouldn’t I have flown directly intoBeijing?” Snowden asked. “I could be living in a palace petting a phoenix by now.”
In a follow-up question, a poster asked whether he could confirm or deny giving classified information to the Chinese. Snowden replied, “No. I have had no contact with the Chinese government. Just like with the Guardian and the Washington Post, I only work with journalists.”
Snowden also said the more panicked the establishment, the better off Americans are in the long run. Career politicians and media pundits have peddled the narrative that Snowden committed treason with solutions ranging from him being “disappeared” to calls for his arrest, extradition and imprisonment.
When asked if the post-leak scandal was proceeding as he hoped, Snowden expressed disappointment.
“Unfortunately, the mainstream media now seems far more interested in what I said when I was 17 or what my girlfriend looks like rather than, say, the largest program of suspicionless surveillance in human history.”
The full transcript of Snowden’s online discussion with the Guardian is posted here.