NSA leaker Snowden: Being called a traitor by Dick Cheney is an honor
(CNN) — Former Vice President Dick Cheney on Sunday called Edward Snowden a “traitor.”
One day later, Snowden–the man who leaked information about the U.S. government’s secret surveillance programs–said he felt honored.
“This is a man who gave us the warrantless wiretapping scheme as a kind of atrocity warm-up on the way to deceitfully engineering a conflict that has killed over 4,400 and maimed nearly 32,000 Americans, as well as leaving over 100,000 Iraqis dead,” Snowden purportedly wrote in a public, online chat Monday hosted by the Guardian newspaper.
“Being called a traitor by Dick Cheney is the highest honor you can give an American,” he added.
In the discussion, he answered questions on why he revealed the National Secret Agency’s classified programs.
Since revealing his identity a little more than a week ago, Snowden has become a controversial figure–celebrated by some, reviled by others.
A CNN/ORC International survey released Monday morning indicates that 52% of the public disapproves of Edward Snowden’s actions, with 44% saying they approve of the leaks by the former government contractor who worked for the National Security Agency.
Republican Rep. Peter King said last week he was a “defector” who’s endangering U.S. national security.
Cheney described Snowden as a “traitor” on “Fox News Sunday” saying his actions were “one of the worst occasions in my memory of somebody with access to classified information doing enormous damage to the national security interests of the U.S.”
Asked if Cheney thought Snowden was spying for China, he said he was “deeply suspicious.”
“It’s not a place you would ordinarily want to go if you’re interested in freedom, liberty and so forth, so it raises questions whether or not he had that kind of connection before he did that,” he said.
Snowden, who fled to Hong Kong, said in the web chat that he chose the spot because it allowed him the “cultural and legal framework to allow me to work without being immediately detained.”
Reacting to accusations of spying, Snowden said it was “smear” he had “anticipated.”
“Ask yourself: if I were a Chinese spy, why wouldn’t I have flown directly into Beijing? I could be living in a palace petting a phoenix by now,” he wrote.
Snowden went on to say that the “more panicked talk we hear from people like (Cheney), (Sen. Dianne) Feinstein, and King, the better off we all are.”
“If they had taught a class on how to be the kind of citizen Dick Cheney worries about, I would have finished high school,” he said.
Cheney maintained Sunday that the top secret surveillance operations set in place during the George W. Bush administration were good programs and help prevent terrorist attacks.