During a U.S. House Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill Tuesday, Rep. Michele Bachmann defended the government’s recently disclosed surveillance programs and called the man who revealed them a traitor.
The director of the National Security Agency, Army Gen. Keith Alexander, testified that the programs – which collect U.S. phone records and track the use of U.S.-based Internet servers by foreigners with possible links to terrorism – are critical to national security.
Bachmann agreed and blasted the actions of Edward Snowden, a former government contractor, who leaked information on the programs to news agencies. Snowden had worked for a year in an information technology job at the NSA office in Hawaii.
“It seems to be that the problem here is that an individual who worked within the system … broke laws and chose to declassify highly sensitive classified information,” Bachmann said.
“It seems to me that’s where our focus should be on how there could be a betrayal of trust and how a traitor could do something like this to the American people. It seems to me that’s where our focus must be and how we can prevent something like that from ever happening again.”
Through her votes to extend the Patriot Act in 2011 and the Foreign Service Intelligence Act in 2012, Bachmann has voted to preserve the government’s power to collect private data, presumably to prevent terrorist attacks. She asked Alexander if Snowden’s disclosures put the United States at risk and aided the country’s enemies.
Alexander answered in the affirmative, saying the leaks caused “irreversible and significant damage to this nation.”