Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden and his Twitter followers are scratching their heads over the new CIA director’s recently expressed disgust at the “worship” of those who leak information like Snowden did.
“I do think it’s accelerated,” Pompeo told MSNBC’s Hugh Hewitt in an interview, portions of which aired Saturday on MSNBC. “I think there is a phenomenon, the worship of Edward Snowden, and those who steal American secrets for the purpose of self-aggrandizement or money or for whatever their motivation may be, does seem to be on the increase.”
He referred to “not only nation-states trying to steal our stuff, but [also] non-state, hostile intelligence services, well-funded — folks like WikiLeaks — out there trying to steal American secrets for the sole purpose of undermining the United States and democracy.”
Snowden, in exile in Russia from U.S. treason charges for exposing the NSA’s widespread digital surveillance of law-abiding Americans, said the CIA can’t seem to figure out why the “public respects those who reveal official crimes more than those who commit them.”
Twitter responses to the Pompeo interview denied that people “worship” whistleblowers and leakers, but said they do tend to respect them.
Some responses noted it was troubling that leaks about possible corruption and crimes appeared to be more important to authorities than actual corruption and crimes.
Pompeo’s focus on leaks is similar to the president’s. Trump believes those who leak information — whether classified or not — should be sought out and prosecuted. After booted FBI Director James Comey revealed that he leaked information about his meetings with Trump, the president called it “illegal.” The information from Comey, however, may have revealed possible obstruction of justice by the president.
Trump himself leaked classified information from a secret source on the Islamic State to visiting Russian officials in May. He also praised WikiLeaks during the presidential campaign (“I love WikiLeaks!” he said at a campaign rally) when it revealed embarrassing emails from the Democratic National Committee — and he encouraged Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails. Pompeo, too, encouraged people to read the emails hacked by WikiLeaks when he was a Kansas congressman.
“I can only say this,” Pompeo said in the interview. “We, and I would say all of President Trump’s government, is incredibly focused on both stopping leaks of any kind from any agency, and when they happen, pursuing them with incredible vigor.”