'This Week' Transcript: NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander
NEW YORK, JUNE 23, 2013— -- A rush transcript of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" airing on Sunday morning, June 23, 2013 on ABC News is below. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC HOST: And we begin with that breaking news. Edward Snowden, the 30-year-old government contractor, who escaped Hong Kong with a treasure trove of America's top secrets, is on the move again, landing in Moscow today, apparently on his way to Venezuela, seeking asylum.
And the question bedeviling U.S. officials this morning: how did this fugitive slip away again?
Let's get right to the latest with ABC's chief justice correspondent, Pierre Thomas.
And, Pierre, the U.S. is working with Hong Kong to bring Snowden to the United States. But Hong Kong government said today that the U.S. request did not fully comply with Hong Kong law.
What went wrong here?
PIERRE THOMAS, ABC NEWS SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: George, it's been a game of cat and mouse and the U.S. government has lost this round.
Just yesterday, a senior law enforcement official told me the U.S. government was expecting a lengthy extradition process. In short, they were anticipating a lot of back-and-forth with Hong Kong authorities before they got this resolved.
Clearly Snowden took full advantage of this fact that the wheels of justice often turn slow. He got the heck out of there because there was nothing to hold him.
STEPHANOPOULOS: This was not a faulty request from the U.S. government?
THOMAS: Well, they're claiming that it's not that -- these processes take a long time and that there's back-and-forth. And, again while they're trying to resolve this, there was nothing to hold Snowden.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So is there anything the United States can do to stop Snowden now while he's in Moscow, as he's waiting for this flight to Venezuela?
THOMAS: George, it does not look this -- like there's much that the U.S. government can do at this point. Snowden appears to be bound for countries that often have a combative relationship with the U.S.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And how did this happen? What do U.S. officials say, how he was able to get out of Hawaii and into Hong Kong in the first place, and then get away again?
THOMAS: Well, you know, a big issue here is the fact that when the information was taken, allegedly taken by Snowden, there was no blinking flag to let the U.S. government know that the information was taken.
So he was able to move freely before they fully knew what had happened.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, it appears, Pierre, that he is being accompanied by a representative of WikiLeaks. They appear to be doing everything they can to help get him to what they consider safety.
THOMAS: Well, based on statements from WikiLeaks officials today, they helped Snowden leave Hong Kong and may be traveling with him.
At some point the U.S. government is going to have to resolve whether WikiLeaks is a journalist entity or an enemy of the state. Some officials are going to say they are aiding and abetting someone who may have broken the law, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, Pierre, thanks very much. Let's get more on this now with our THIS WEEK exclusive, General Keith Alexander, the four-star general who heads the National Security Agency.
General Alexander, thank you so much for coming on this morning.
First off, this news that Snowden is apparently on his way to Moscow, perhaps to Venezuela.