Former US Vice President Dick Cheney has accused the young NSA spy agency employee that exposed massive American electronic surveillance programs in the country and abroad as a Chinese spy.
Appearing in a Sunday interview with US-based Fox News, the hawkish vice president in the George W. Bush’s administration asserted that Edward Snowden, a former contract network administrator at the National Security Agency (NSA) had violated US laws and might be a Chinese spy.
“I’m suspicious because he went to China,” said Cheney, who reportedly flew to Washington from his home in Jackson Hole, Wyoming to appear on the Fox News program. “That’s not a place where you would ordinarily want to go if you are interested in freedom, liberty and so forth. It raises questions whether or not he had that kind of connection before he did this.”
The former top US official further defended the newly disclosed electronic spying programs conducted by the government and described Snowden as a “criminal” and a “traitor.”
Cheney insisted that Snowden had severely undermined the United States’ intelligence capabilities.
“I think it’s 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 United States,” said Cheney, who was a strong advocate for the classified programs when he was in office.
Snowden reportedly flew to Hong Kong last month from Hawaii, where he worked for an NSA facility, carrying a trove of documents about top-secret telephone and Internet surveillance programs.
He has further revealed that the United States had tapped into the computer systems of China and numerous other countries.
Cheney said he was concerned that Snowden had more damaging information. He said the Chinese authorities might welcome the opportunity to provide him sanctuary from American law enforcement officials who are likely to seek his extradition to face charges in the United States.
Meanwhile, Republican Congressman Mike Rogers of Michigan, who is the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, also defended the US surveillance programs on Sunday, saying that they were tightly monitored by Congress, the courts and the executive branch.