Likely 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has taken a firm stance against the actions of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, denying his revelations have brought any positive impacts and slamming him for accepting asylum in Russia.
Speaking with NPR's Terry Gross on Thursday, Clinton claimed Snowden could have "expressed his concerns" in other ways "by reaching out to some of the senators or other members of Congress or journalists in order to convey his questions about the implementation of the laws surrounding the collection of information concerning Americans' calls and emails."
Her comments sparked criticism from progressives, journalists and civil liberties advocates.
"[Clinton] is just piling on with others who criticized Snowden, not recognizing that if it were not for him and his courageous disclosures, we wouldn't even know our government is routinely violating our 4th amendment rights," Matt Rothschild, senior editor of The Progressive magazine, told Common Dreams.
The former U.S. Secretary of State defended U.S. mass surveillance, stating, "collecting information about what’s going around the world is essential to our security." She added, "The pieces about the metadata collection, the other impacts on Americans, is a small sliver of what was stolen. Most of what was stolen concerned the surveillance that the United States undertakes, totally legally, against other nations."
Clinton condemned Snowden for leaving "first to China, then to Russia—taking with him a huge amount of information about how we track the Chinese military's investments and testing of military equipment, how we monitor the communications between al-Qaida operatives."
While the high-profile Democrat condemned the wiretapping of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone, and claimed that she favors a discussion of spying through the appropriate channels, she refused to acknowledge positive development from Snowden's revelations.
According to Rothschild, "To say that he should have gone to elected officials or other members of the media is to say he should have just gone through the safest channels for the establishment. As it is, he went to legitimate journalists who are doing what journalists are supposed to do, which is to tell the American people what our government is up to."
And Kevin Gosztola, writing for on FireDogLake on Friday, challenges Clinton's assertions about the choices available to Snowden:
Clinton does not even begin to fathom the possibility of retaliation for talking to members of Congress. She does not recognize that he would have received no “independent due process hearing or day in court” and it would have been very easy for the NSA to push him out of his job or fire him and ensure he never worked another position in government in which a security clearance was required.
Twitter commentators also jumped into the debate.
— Jesselyn Radack (@JesselynRadack) June 13, 2014
Hillary Clinton siding with NSA against #Snowden & the American people is a big red flag that she learned nothing from her Patriot Act vote.
— Bob Brigham (@BobBrigham) June 13, 2014
Rothschild adds, "This isn't surprising from Hillary Clinton, who is more hawkish on foreign policy and national security than President Obama. People should not be deluded about who she is and what kind of president she would really be."