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Lawmaker Says Snowden Leaks Will Cost Country 'Billions To Repair'

Posted: February 5, 2014

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During a classified briefing, the lawmakers were told most of the information taken by Edward Snowden had nothing to do with U.S. surveillance programs. Instead, his leaks "specifically [work] to compromise the military capability and defense of the country."

Edward Snowden.

Edward Snowden. AFP

Following a classified briefing on Wednesday, the chairman and the vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee said the "majority" of the classified information taken by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden had "nothing to do with the NSA," or its collection of bulk data.

"Instead [his leaks] specifically [work] to compromise the military capability and defense of the country," Rep. Mac Thornberry, a Texas Republican and the vice chairman of the committee, said during a press briefing.

Thornberry added the leaks will "certainly cost billions to repair."

"His actions were espionage plain and simple," Thornberry said.

Rep. Howard McKeon, a Republican from California and the committee chairman, piled on.

"Edward Snowden isn't a whistle-blower; he isn't a hero. He's a traitor and a criminal," McKeon said. Americans, he added, would be "shocked and outraged" to learn how much of the information he took had to do with defense issues.

"The damage to the military is not the mark of a whistle-blower," McKeon said.

These are not the first of those kinds of accusations launched at Snowden. If you remember, Rep. Mike Rogers, the chairman of the House intelligence committee, intimated that Snowden had help from the Russians to steal the data.

Rogers provided no evidence to back that up.

Snowden, meanwhile, called the allegations "absurd."

None of the news organizations that were given the classified documents taken by Snowden have published stories about the military.

It's also worth noting that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told Congress on Tuesday that they are still trying to assess the extent of what Snowden took.

Defense Intelligence Agency chief Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn told Congress they were working under the assumption that ever document Snowden accessed, he also took.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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