The Note: Washington Gets Snowed-In

Image credit: The Guardian/AP

By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )


  • OUT OF THE SHADOWS: The source of a series of top secret leaks from the National Security Agency has identified himself as ex-CIA technical assistant Edward Snowden, saying he was standing up against the U.S. government's "horrifying" surveillance capabilities, ABC's MATTHEW MOSK, JAMES GORDON MEEK and LEE FERRAN report. "I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded," the 29-year-old told the British newspaper The Guardian, which broke the first in a series of headline-grabbing articles on NSA surveillance late last week. "That is not something I am willing to support or live under." According to The Guardian, Snowden has been working with the NSA for the last four years as an "employee of various outside contractors," including the technology consulting firm Booz Allen and the computer giant Dell. Before that, he served as a computer specialist for years with the CIA, which he left in 2009.
  • WHAT HAPPENS NEXT: An extradition treaty between the United States and Hong Kong, signed in 1996, could determine if and how alleged NSA leaker Edward Snowden is handed over to American authorities and brought back to the U.S. to face any charges, ABC's DEVIN DWYER notes. The process could take months or years. The treaty governs the transfer of suspected criminals between the U.S. and Hong Kong, which have a well-established record of bilateral cooperation. Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., late Sunday became one of the first U.S. officials to call for "extradition proceedings at the earliest date" and warned that "no country should be granting this individual asylum." For an extradition case to proceed, however, the U.S. first must decide to press charges and present probable cause to Hong Kong authorities. The alleged offense must also meet the treaty's test of "dual criminality," meaning it is a crime punishable by imprisonment of more than one year in both countries. Watch ABC's JONATHAN KARL and DAN ABRAMS discuss whether Snowden will find asylum:
  • ICE, ICE MAYBE: "The only thing I can do is sit here and hope the Hong Kong government does not deport me," Snowden, 29, said in his interview with U.K. newspaper The Guardian. "My predisposition is to seek asylum in a country with shared values. The nation that most encompasses this is Iceland." Iceland might be a long shot. That country's ambassador to China told the South China Morning Post that Snowden would have to be physically inside Iceland in order to apply for such status. "According to Icelandic law, a person can only submit such an application once he-she is in Iceland," Ambassador Kristín Árnadóttir said, according to the paper.


ABC's RICK KLEIN: Now what? Edward Snowden's decision to out himself as the NSA leaker makes a complex security and legal situation even trickier for the Obama administration. First there's the promise of more leaks to come, with limited ability to do anything to restrain information in the digital age. Then there are legal issues surrounding efforts to prosecute Snowden - and China (!) suddenly a player in that drama. And now there's the fact that the leaker has a face, a name, a backstory, and a justification for his actions. There's already a petition calling for a pardon for Snowden (good luck with that). We're now talking months or years of legal wrangling, just over what's already been leaked. It could be much longer before the administration is comfortable such leaks couldn't happen again.

ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: The Massachusetts special Senate election to replace Secretary of State John Kerry is just two weeks away. Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass) and Gabriel Gomez already have one fiery debate under their belt and the Markey team has been hammering Gomez on his anti-abortion rights stance. Markey still leads, but today the Gomez campaign is introducing a new line of attack criticizing Markey for voting to increase spending over his 37 years in Congress, but also how many times he's voted to increase his own pay, something that could leave a mark in this time of Americans tightening their own belts. A research piece out this morning from the Gomez team says Markey voted six times to increase his own pay, while other congressman over the years including Democrats opposed. In a statement, Gomez says Markey has a " record of recklessly spending our money, and our children's money, while voting six times to raise his own pay represents everything that's wrong with Washington." "Let's try something new - I will fight for a pay freeze in Congress, and will reach across the aisle to stop wasteful spending by politicians like Ed Markey who put the interests of his own Washington political class before the people of Massachusetts," Gomez said.

ABC's MICHAEL FALCONE: It was a big weekend for Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H. On Sunday she announced on CBS's "Face the Nation" that she supports the immigration reform bill drafted by the Senate's bipartisan "Gang of Eight." But today she's getting some more high profile political cover for standing her ground on another matter: gun control. The conservative-leaning American Future Fund is going on the air today with its second television ad in the Granite State on behalf of Ayotte's votes on gun control measures in Congress (she voted against the Manchin-Toomey background check compromise and has been getting hammered on the air by the Michael Bloomberg-backed group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which supported the background check deal). The new ad will run statewide on cable and network television in the New Hampshire and Boston media markets. "AFF is prepared to go toe-to-toe with Bloomberg and his organization on this," a strategist with the group told ABC News. So far, the American Future Fund has spent over $1.2 million on television in New Hampshire since May 10.


TED CRUZ: OBAMA BIGGEST OBSTACLE TO IMMIGRATION REFORM, CALLS HIMSELF A 'PROUD WACKO BIRD'. As immigration debate begins before the full Senate for the first time, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) has become one of the most vocal opponents to the current bill. But Cruz says the true obstacle to immigration reform is not him, but President Obama. "The biggest the biggest obstacle to passing common sense immigration reform is President Barack Obama," Cruz told ABC's JEFF ZELENY, host of "The Fine Print," going on to say that the White House's "insistence" on including a path to citizenship is standing in the way of the bill's ultimate passage. "The path the White House is going down, I believe, is designed for this bill to fail," Cruz says. "It is designed for it to sail through the Senate and then crash in the House to let the President go and campaign in 2014 on this issue." Over his six month run in the Senate, Cruz has developed a reputation for not towing the line with party leadership, and has even been called a "wacko bird" by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). For more of the interview with Sen. Cruz, and to hear what he says was the most surprising thing when he came to the Senate, check out this episode of The Fine Print.


INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE LEADERS DEFEND NSA SURVEILLANCE. The leaders of the Senate and House Intelligence committees defended the National Security Agency's phone and internet surveillance programs revealed last week, saying that the programs are "within the law" and have been critical in thwarting potential terrorist attacks, ABC's IMTIYAZ DELAWALA reports. Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said on "This Week" Sunday that the NSA phone surveillance program revealed in reports last week is limited in scope to viewing phone records, not listening to private conversations, while reiterating that court orders are required for further information. "The program is essentially walled off within the NSA. There are limited numbers of people who have access to it," Feinstein said on "This Week." "The only thing taken, as has been correctly expressed, is not content of a conversation, but the information that is generally on your telephone bill, which has been held not to be private personal property by the Supreme Court. If there is strong suspicion that a terrorist outside of the country is trying to reach someone on the inside of the country, those numbers then can be obtained. If you want to collect content on the American, then a court order is issued." "The National Security Agency does not listen to Americans' phone calls and it is not reading Americans' emails. None of these programs allow that," added Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., chair of the House Intelligence Committee.

CASE STUDIES: Both Feinstein and Rogers said that the phone and internet surveillance programs has been instrumental in stopping terrorist attacks, citing the 2009 terror plot by Najibullah Zazi, the Colorado resident who was arrested in Sept. 2009 after plotting to bomb the New York subway system. Feinstein said the program also helped to track the case of David Headley, a Pakistani-American who traveled to Mumbai to scope the Taj Mahal Hotel for an attack. "I can tell you, in the Zazi case in New York, it's exactly the program that was used," Rogers said, later adding, "I think the Zazi case is so important, because that's one you can specifically show that this was the key piece that allowed us to stop a bombing in the New York Subway system."

REPORTER GLENN GREENWALD BLASTS CALLS FOR LEAK PROSECUTIONS. Glenn Greenwald, the reporter for The Guardian who broke stories last week on the National Security Agency's phone and internet surveillance programs, blasted calls for the prosecution of his sources for leaking classified information, saying they "deserve our praise and gratitude and not imprisonment and prosecution," ABC's IMTIYAZ DELAWALA notes. "What they did was they risked their careers and their lives and their liberty because what they were seeing being done in secret inside the United States government is so alarming and so pernicious that they simply want one thing, and that is for the American people at least to learn about what this massive spying apparatus is, and what the capabilities are, so that we can have an open, honest debate about whether that's the kind of country that we want to live in," Greenwald said on "This Week" Sunday. "Unfortunately, since the government hides virtually everything that they do at the threat of criminal prosecution, the only way for us to learn about them is through these courageous whistle-blowers who deserve our praise and gratitude and not imprisonment and prosecution," Greenwald added.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: CORY BOOKER FORMALLY ANNOUNCES SENATE BID. Newark Mayor Cory Booker announced this weekend that he will seek the Senate seat made vacant when Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., died last week, ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ reports. "I'm here today to officially announce my candidacy to be New Jersey's next United States senator," Booker said at a Saturday news conference in Trenton, N.J. "Democracy is not a spectator sport, but now as much as in any time, we must bring people together. We must actually get into the complicated difficult messy arena and take on the difficult challenges, work in uncommon ways with conviction and courage." Booker, who has served as mayor of Newark for seven years, praised Lautenberg for his service and leadership in New Jersey and the Senate. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie set the date for the special election to fill Lautenberg's seat for Oct. 16, three weeks before Christie faces re-election himself. On Thursday, Christie appointed state Attorney General Jeff Chiesa, a Republican, as interim senator, but Chiesa does not plan on running in the special election this year. The Democratic primary for the seat will be held in August.

WHERE THING STAND IN NEW JERSEY: Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., is set to enter the special election to replace Frank Lautenberg today, but he starts his day off with some unwelcome news, ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE reports. In a new Quinnipiac poll, Newark mayor Cory Booker leads the Democratic primary field, which also includes Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ). Booker gets 53 percent of the Democratic primary vote, with 10 percent for Holt and 9 percent for Pallone. (State Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver will also run, but is not included in the poll). In a general election matchup, Booker tops the announced Republican Steve Lonegan 54 to 27 percent. Other possible matchups are closer as Pallone leads Lonegan 39 to 29 percent and Holt beats him 36 to 31 percent. New Jersey voters also have a 57 to 14 percent favorable opinion of Booker. "It's Newark Mayor Cory Booker in a runaway in this first look at the special election to fill the U.S. Senate seat held by the late Frank Lautenberg," Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said in a statement. "Who are those other guys? The record shows that Congressmen Frank Pallone and Rush Holt are big in their districts, but, state-wide, no one knows them."

CHRISTIE VS. BUONO: And in the New Jersey governor's race Gov. Chris Christie is still beating state Sen. Barbara Buono by wide margin 59 to 29 percent, according to today's Quinnipiac poll. New Jersey voters approve 69 to 27 percent of the job Christie is doing, the highest job approval of any governor in the eight states surveyed by Quinnipiac.


@CHueyBurnsRCP: It's Zero Hour for Immigration Bill …

@PounderFile: WE: "New ad features Democrats highlighting Terry McAuliffe's weaknesses" (via @America_Rising)

@tobyharnden: Edward Snowden partly reminiscent of ex-CIA officer Philip Agee, who was pursued around world by US in 1970s

@ZekeJMiller: At U.S.-China Summit, Leaders Talk of Avoiding Another Cold War via @TIMEPolitics

@jmartNYT: How similiar are McConnell & Reid, 2 untelegenic 70something pol scrappers? They're reading from same book series >

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