The most under-reported remark at the Republican Jewish Coalition spring leadership meeting in Las Vegas last weekend was that of Ambassador John Bolton, who took a thinly-veiled shot at Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY): “Anyone who thinks Edward Snowden is a hero,” Bolton said, “is unfit to serve.” Not just as commander-in-chief: unfit to serve, period.
Bolton also called Snowden a “21st Century equivalent of Benedict Arnold.” (The analogy does not quite work: Arnold had at least won important military victories for the U.S. before defecting.)
Sen. Paul has not actually referred to Snowden as a “hero.” (That distinction belongs to his father, former Rep. Ron Paul, who has indeed used that term to describe Snowden.)
Last year, Sen. Paul called Snowden’s actions a form of “civil disobedience,” though he has been more careful recently to acknowledge that Snowden committed a crime. He is quick to add that members of the Obama administration should be prosecuted as well, such as Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who allegedly misled Congress about NSA spying activities.
Bolton struggled somewhat in his defense of the NSA program, saying only that the debate was not a fair fight, because the agency could not produce the evidence to exonerate itself without compromising national security.
Another important remark Bolton made was to insist that most Tea Party members are not isolationists, and that they prefer a strong foreign policy. The audience applauded that statement, which happens to be backed up by survey evidence, and which may also have been intended to distinguish between Sen. Paul and the Tea Party.