(AP) White House, lawmakers: no clemency for Snowden
By KIMBERLY DOZIER
AP Intelligence Writer
The White House and the leaders of the congressional intelligence committees are rejecting former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden’s plea for clemency.
Snowden made the plea in a letter given to a German politician and released Friday. In his one-page typed letter, he asks for clemency for charges over allegedly leaking classified information about the NSA to the news media. “Speaking the truth is not a crime,” Snowden wrote.
Snowden’s revelations, among them allegations that the U.S. has eavesdropped on allies including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, have led to calls by allies to cease such spying and moves by Congress to overhaul U.S. surveillance laws and curb the agency’s powers.
Bu the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee said if Snowden had been a true whistle-blower, he could have reported his concerns to her committee privately.
The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Mike Rogers, called clemency for Snowden a “terrible idea.”
Rogers contended that Snowden’s revelations had caused three terrorist organizations to change how they communicate.
Both lawmakers addressed word that President Barack Obama did not realize Merkel’s personal phone was being tapped.
Rogers implied that he didn’t believe the president, or European leaders who claimed they were shocked by Snowden’s allegations.
Feinstein said she didn’t know what the president knew, but said she intended to conduct a review of all intelligence programs to see if they were going too far.
Feinstein and Rogers been criticized for defending the NSA. Feinstein’s committee produced a bill last week that she says increases congressional oversight and limits some NSA powers under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Privacy advocates say the measure codifies the agency’s rights to scoop up millions of American’s telephone records.
Former NSA and CIA director Mike Hayden said it was possible Obama did not know about the alleged Merkel phone tapping.
But he said it was “impossible” that Obama’s top staffers were unaware. “The fact that they didn’t rush in to tell the president this was going on points out what I think is a fundamental fact: This wasn’t exceptional. This is what we were expected to do.”
Hayden’s defense of the president comes days after he reportedly criticized the White House’s handling of NSA revelations, when a former Democratic political operative tweeted snatches of Hayden’s phone conversation, overheard on an Amtrak train.
Pfeiffer appeared on ABC’s “This Week,” while Rogers, Feinstein and Hayden were interviewed on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
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