The Note: Edward Snowden Debate: Traitor Or Hero?

Credit: The Guardian, Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras

By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )


  • CHARGES COMING AGAINST ALLEGED NSA LEAKER: The U.S. Justice Department is preparing to file criminal charges against Edward Snowden, the man who confessed to leaking top secret documents on the National Security Agency's vast surveillance programs, according to two law enforcement officials. According to ABC's BRIAN ROSS, JAMES GORDON MEEK, CINDY GALLI and MEGAN CHUCHMACH, the sources said the U.S. government is trying to act quickly to set in motion the machinery to bring Snowden back home, as a columnist involved in breaking a series of stories based on Snowden's information says there's much more to come out. "We certainly have a lot more stories to write," Glenn Greenwald, columnist for the U.K.'s The Guardian told ABC News.
  • THE DEFENDERS: At the White House website, more than 25,000 people have signed a petition to give Snowden a blanket pardon for his alleged crimes. There was also great praise for Snowden from another famed whistleblower, Daniel Ellsberg, who defied the Nixon administration four decades ago by leaking the Pentagon Papers about the Vietnam War. "As for being a traitor, that's part of the price of telling the truth that the President doesn't want told," Ellsberg, now 82 years old, told ABC News. "I paid that price myself."
  • THE DETRACTORS: House Speaker John Boehner today called Snowden a "traitor" who put Americans at risk by releasing classified information to the media, ABC's ABBY PHILLIP reports. "He's a traitor," the highest ranking Republican in the House of Representatives said in an extensive interview with ABC's GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS. "The disclosure of this information puts Americans at risk. It shows our adversaries what our capabilities are. And it's a giant violation of the law." Boehner endorsed President Obama's characterization of two programs, which allow the NSA to gather information about phone calls made in the U.S. as well as information on foreign suspects collected from major internet companies, as critical to the government's ability to fight terrorism. He said that there are "clear safeguards" built into the programs to protect Americans. VIDEO: TRANSCRIPT:


ABC's RICK KLEIN: "Let the House work its will," House Speaker John Boehner declared on "GMA" today. And yet Boehner also expressed optimism that an immigration bill will be signed into law by the president by the end of this year. Surely few are more cognizant of the potential conflicts between those statement than the speaker. With the Senate poised to move ahead with its version of a bill - a version Boehner is on record having problems with, representing a near-certain majority of his conference - the speaker is making clear he won't be impacted by the Senate action. This looks like a leader who's been burned before, and enough already, when going against his conference. It's that dynamic that could stand as the largest remaining obstacle to finishing a bill on the timeline Boehner shares with the president.

ABC's DEVIN DWYER: How bad is it, really? Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Monday that Edward Snowden's leak of top-secret documents is "gut-wrenching" for its "profound affects" and "huge, grave damage" to U.S. intelligence capabilities. Top members of Congressional intelligence committees have echoed that view, condemning Snowden as "dangerous," "treasonous," an outright "traitor," even before he's been charged or tried. Curiously, neither President Obama nor his spokesman Jay Carney have seemed eager to publicly display similar outrage. Carney said the administration "supports" Clapper's view, calling the leak a "serious problem." In his only public comments on the leak, Obama said Friday that he does not "welcome leaks" and that they pose "risks to personnel in very dangerous situations." So far no direct comment on Snowden because, Carney says, Obama does not want to interject himself into an ongoing investigation. But that hasn't stopped the president from voicing outrage before - just see his comments about Bradley Manning, Trayvon Martin, and the IRS employees accused of targeting the Tea Party.


THE BIG CHILL: INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER TALKS US COVERT WARS AND NATIONAL SECRETS. As the White House faces questions about secret internet and telephone surveillance programs, investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill says, "There's a chill that's been sent through the national security reporting community." Scahill, who investigated the United States' covert operations in the war against terrorism in a new documentary, "Dirty Wars," told ABC's REENA NINAN and YAHOO's OLIVIER KNOX in an interview recorded prior to the most recent NSA leaks that sources inside the government have grown fearful of talking to the media. "Many sources that I used to be able to talk to through encrypted e-mail or with chats using OTR, off the record software, they won't do it anymore," Scahill said. "It's either in person or nothing. … There's a real fear on the part of whistleblowers and sources that the Espionage Act is going to come knocking on their door one day under the Noble Peace Prize-winning, Constitutional law professor, Democratic president." For more of the interview with Scahill and to hear what questions he thinks the Washington press corps has failed to ask the president, check out this episode of "Top Line."


-REPUBLICANS SAY HILLARY'S SILENCE IS NOT GOLDEN. Today the GOP opposition research group, America Rising, accused former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of being M.I.A. on the IRS, NSA and DOJ scandals that have rocked the Obama administration over the last few weeks. "Yesterday Hillary Clinton became the last politician in America to join Twitter. Maybe it will give the former Secretary of State and presumptive Democrat front-runner in 2016 the vehicle she needs to show any leadership at all on the scandals engulfing the Obama Administration. When it comes to the grave issues at the IRS, NSA, and DOJ - Hillary has been nowhere to be found. We await the #TweetsfromHillary" America Rising created a graphic of a bored-looking Clinton on its Tumblr site:

-TED CRUZ KEYNOTES CONSERVATIVE GROUP'S 'EXECUTIVE BRANCH REVIEW' GATHERING. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tex., will participate in a panel titled "Is the Administrative State on the Rise?" at today's first annual Executive Branch Review Conference hosted by the Federalist Society at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. Joining Crus on the panel will be David M. McIntosh, Founder, The Federalist Society; and Prof. Jonathan R. Turley, J.B. and Maurice C. Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law, and Director of the Environmental Law Advocacy Center, The George Washington University Law School. Other panels at the day-long event include "Is Government a Friend or Foe of Innovation?", "Implementation of the Affordable Care Act" and Dodd-Frank and Beyond." More information:


OBAMA RENEWS IMMIGRATION REFORM PUSH. This morning President Obama delivers remarks at the White House in support of the Senate's bipartisan immigration reform bill, ABC's MARY BRUCE reports. The president will again praise the bipartisan progress and "highlight the broad coalition of leaders who agree that the shared principles of strengthening and increasing border security, providing an earned path to citizenship, holding employers accountable, and bringing our immigration system into the 21st century must be central to any effort," according to a White House official. Obama will be joined by law enforcement representatives, business and labor leaders, faith leaders, and Republican and Democratic elected officials who are all also calling on the Senate to act, including: Tom Donohue, President and CEO, US Chamber of Commerce; Julian Castro, Mayor, San Antonio, Texas; Mary Kay Henry, International President, SEIU; Carlos Gutierrez, Former Secretary of Commerce; Chief William Bratton, Former Chief of Police, LAPD and NYPD; Richard Trumka, President, AFL-CIO; Sheriff Margaret Mims, Fresno County, California.

NOTED: The Service Employees International Union today launched a seven-figure national advertising buy that will run five different commercials in rotation on national cable networks. According to a press release, "This ad buy is the latest action in SEIU's multi-million dollar campaign in support of commonsense immigration reform. The ad buy begins today and will run through the end of June, a key time in the Senate debate on the bipartisan immigration bill. The five different television ads feature law enforcement officials, small business owners, veterans, DREAMers, and Republicans voters who explain why they support commonsense immigration reform and call on the Senate to act." WATCH:

ALSO ON THE AGENDA: Later today, President Obama meets with President Ollanta Humala of Peru. In the evening, the Obamas host a screening of "The President's Gatekeepers" at the White House.

FOUR SENATE DEMOCRATS WHO COULD VOTE AGAINST IMMIGRATION REFORM. You've heard a lot about the Republicans who are standing in the way of immigration reform in the Senate, but some Democrats may not vote for the bill, either. The Senate will hold its first procedural votes on the Gang of Eight immigration reform bill this week. For the legislation to avoid a potential filibuster, supporters will need 60 senators to back the bill, F USION's JORDAN FABIAN notes. "We got virtually every Democrat. We may miss or lose a handful," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said on Univision's "Al Punto" this Sunday. "We'll get more than 90 percent of the Democrats. All we need is a little help from the Republicans." But if the bill's supporters have trouble finding enough Republican backers, they be forced to turn to undecided Democrats to cobble together the necessary votes. Here are a few Democrats who could vote against reform, based on background from groups in favor of the bill:

THE SPEAKER PREDICTS: House Speaker John Boehner said in an interview today with ABC's GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS that he believes that passing an immigration bill in the House is the most important thing on his agenda this year. He added that he expects Obama to sign a bill by the end of the year. "I'm hopeful that we'll have a product come out of the committee by the end of June," Bohener said. "I believe that it's important for the House to work its will on this issue. And I would expect that a House bill will be to the right of where the Senate is." He did not say, however, whether that bill would include a pathway to citizenship for the some 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the U.S., a provision that Obama has said is essential to an immigration bill that he would be willing to sign.

CORY BOOKER'S COMPETITION: FOUR-WAY DEMOCRATIC SENATE PRIMARY TAKES SHAPE. Cory Booker's got company. The Newark mayor may be the early favorite in the fast-paced race to fill the U.S. Senate seat once held by the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg, but he will have to fend off challenges from several other Democrats and, eventually, a Republican general election opponent, before he can book a ticket to Washington, ABC's MICHAEL FALCONE and SHUSHANNAH WALSHE report. Three other Democrats filed paperwork on Monday to run in the Aug. 13 primary: Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J.: Pallone, 61, represents New Jersey's 6th Congressional district and has been in office since 1989. He boasts an impressive campaign war chest of $3.7 million, which likely makes him Booker's stiffest competition. Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J.: Holt, 63, represents the state's 12th Congressional district and has held office since 1999. State Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver: Oliver, who has served in the state legislature for more than a decade, would become New Jersey's first female senator if elected. At least two Republican candidates filed papers to run in the GOP primary. The best-known is conservative activist Steve Lonegan, who ran unsuccessfully in the GOP gubernatorial primaries in 2005 and 2009. Lonegan served as mayor of Bogota, N.J. from 1995-2007, and he will likely face Somerset, N.J. physician Alieta Eck in the Senate primary.

THE JERSEY OUTLOOK: A Quinnipiac University poll out on Monday showed Booker trouncing all challengers in the Democratic primary field. In the survey, Booker got 53 percent of the Democratic primary vote, with 10 percent support for Holt and 9 percent for Pallone. (State Assembly Speaker Oliver was not included in the poll). And, if Booker prevails in the primary, he would be the heavy favorite to win the Oct. 16 general election. The same poll found Booker topping Lonegan 54 to 27 percent in a head-to-head match up. Another wildcard in the compressed special election contest is turnout. Brigid Harrison, professor of political science at Montclair State University, pointed out that there is no precedent for an August primary in the Garden State. "It really will be who has the better organizational structure and it isn't always experience or even voters' positive perceptions of a candidate that are necessarily as important as a candidate's ability to turn out his or her supporters," Harrison said in an interview with ABC News.

BOEHNER ACCUSES WHITE HOUSE OF STONEWALLING ON IRS INQUIRY. House Speaker John Boehner said it was "inconceivable" that President Obama could not have known about the IRS's targeting of conservative groups, despite the president's claim that he did not know about the outcome of an inspector general audit until the report was released publicly, ABC's ABBY PHILLIP notes. "It would be inconceivable in my operation that my staff would know it and I wouldn't," Boehner told ABC's GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS. "It just doesn't pass the straight face test. How could - how can your chief of staff - your general counsel know, and you not know?" He said the White House has "stonewalled" requests for additional information to aid congressional investigators, but he does not believe that the directives to target conservative groups came from "some low-level employees in Cincinnati."


"FEDS NOW BACK MORNING-AFTER PILLS FOR ALL GIRLS," by the Associated Press' Tom Hays. "After setting off a storm of criticism from abortion rights groups upset that a Democratic president had sided with social conservatives, the Obama administration said it will comply with a judge's order to allow girls of any age to buy emergency contraception without prescriptions. But in doing so, at least one opponent of easy access to the contraception thinks the president is buckling to political pressure, rather than making the health of girls a priority. The Justice Department notified U.S. District Judge Edward Korman on Monday that it will submit a plan for compliance. If he approves it, the department will drop its appeal of his April ruling. According to the department's letter to the judge, the Food and Drug Administration has told the maker of the pills to submit a new drug application with proposed labeling that would permit it to be sold 'without a prescription and without age or point-of-sale prescriptions.' The FDA said that once it receives the application, it 'intends to approve it promptly.'"


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