Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton spoke out against former government contractor Edward Snowden for leaking classified details on the National Security Agency’s controversial surveillance practices, suggesting Snowden should “swing from a tall oak tree” as punishment.
Speaking on Fox News on Monday, Bolton, who served under former President George W. Bush, characterized Snowden’s actions as treason, and urged against any public talk of amnesty.
“I must say absent some other important piece of information, it has to be one of the dumbest things that I’ve seen in a long time, to be speculating about it publicly, even if they are contemplating a deal with Snowden some kind of amnesty,” Bolton said. “The last thing that people ought to be doing is speculating about it publicly. It will inevitably make it a political football and enhance Snowden’s bargaining power.”
Bolton continued, “My view is that Snowden committed treason, he ought to be convicted of that, and then he ought to swing from a tall oak tree. But even if you don’t believe that, if you’re gonna say anything publicly, that is closer to what you should be saying to enhance our own bargaining leverage.”
Bolton’s remarks came in response to NSA official Rick Ledgett’s suggestion it is “worth having a conversation about” amnesty for Snowden.
“I would need assurances that the remainder of the data could be secured and my bar for those assurances would be very high,” Ledgett told CBS News during an interview that aired on Sunday’s “60 Minutes.” “It would be more than just an assertion on his part.”
NSA Director Keith Alexander, however, disagrees with Ledgett.
“I think people have to be held accountable for their actions,” Alexander told CBS. “Because what we don’t want is the next person to do the same thing, race off to Hong Kong and to Moscow with another set of data knowing they can strike the same deal.”