Former Secretary Of State and possible 2016 Presidential contender Hillary Clinton suggested that National Security Agency whistle-blower Edward Snowden‘s decision to take refuge in Russia should call into question his motives for leaking surveillance secrets.
“When he emerged and when he absconded with all that material, I was puzzled because we have all these protections for whistle-blowers. If he were concerned and wanted to be part of the American debate, he could have been,” she told an audience at the University of Connecticut on Wednesday. “But it struck me as—I just have to be honest with you—as sort of odd that he would flee to China, because Hong Kong is controlled by China, and that he would then go to Russia—two countries with which we have very difficult cyberrelationships, to put it mildly.”
Of course, Clinton’s claim that the government would have protected Snowden had he taken a different route are made dubious considering how former whistle-blowers like Thomas Drake, William Binney and J. Kirk Wiebe have been treated.
Furthermore, Snowden told Vanity Fair this month that he tried to take his concerns up the chain of command, but was ignored.
Clinton’s criticism of Snowden was preceded by a praise of the Nation’s post-9/11 security network—though she was careful not to single out any specific program.
“People were desperate to avoid another attack, and I saw enough intelligence as a senator from New York, and then certainly as secretary [of State], that this is a constant—there are people right this minute trying to figure out how to do harm to Americans and to other innocent people,” Clinton said. “So it was a debate that needs to happen, so that we make sure that we’re not infringing on Americans’ privacy, which is a valued, cherished personal belief that we have. But we also had to figure out how to get the right amount of security.”
The former top diplomat also suggested that the U.S. is one of many countries involved in heavy surveillance and that Snowden’s leaks open the Nation up to terrorist attacks.
“It’s not like the only government in the world doing anything is the United States,” she said.
“I think turning over a lot of that material—intentionally or unintentionally—drained, gave all kinds of information, not only to big countries, but to networks and terrorist groups and the like. So I have a hard time thinking that somebody who is a champion of privacy and liberty has taken refuge in Russia, under Putin’s authority.”
Clinton also questioned Snowden’s recent decision to appear on a Russian news show with Putin.