At The Washington Monthly Ed Kilgore explores the political fallout from the Edward Snowden leaks./whistle blowing story and shares some nuanced observations:
…Virtually all of the talk about extraditing and prosecuting Snowden, so far, is coming from Republicans. Obama’s National Intelligence Director James Clapper has referred Snowden’s case to the Justice Department for possible prosecutorial action, but that’s it. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who has been outspoken in defending aggressive surveillance activities and investigations of leaks, has so far been quiet about Snowden’s potential criminal liability. And the White House hasn’t been heard from either.
It’s much clearer that Snowden is presenting a major problem (as well as am Obama-bashing opportunity) for the GOP and the conservative movement. Peter King is calling for extradition of the leaker, and Eric Cantor is promising a House investigation. And for every Glenn Beck joining Ellsberg and Michael Moore in calling Snowden a hero, there’s a Max Boot calling him a “misguided and malevolent individual.”
Most of all, this is a tricky situation for Rand Paul, who has threatened to sue the federal government over the NSA’s sweep of phone numbers from telecom companies, but hasn’t linked arms with Snowden just yet (the unsurprising revelation that Snowden was a supporter of his father’s 2012 campaign may make this silence quickly impossible).
While the Obama Administration will continue to catch heat from the left until it all blows over, the fissures in the GOP may deepen considerably as a consequence. As Kilgore concludes,
…The set of issues raised by this case are harder to finesse than more conventional national security issues where Paul and the neocons can agree on unilateralism even as they mute differences over interventionist and non-interventionist postures. Most importantly, however, this is a rapidly developing story that tends to produce highly emotional reactions. So I’m not sure conservatives will be able to keep their rickety coalition together, particularly if Obama and Democrats find some way to avoid a rupture in their own.
In addition, the controversy once again raises questions about the wisdom of subcontracting important work bearing on our national security to the private sector — another thing they don’t do very well. That would be more of a problem for conservative ideologues than for Democrats.