POLITICS

Tom McClintock, GOP Congressman, Calls For Edward Snowden Amnesty

SACRAMENTO, CA - SEPTEMBER 24 :  Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom McClintock participates in a debate at California Sta
SACRAMENTO, CA - SEPTEMBER 24 : Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom McClintock participates in a debate at California State University, Sacramento September 24, 2003 in Sacramento, California. The top five gubernatorial candidates faced off for the first time for the recall election. (Photo by John Decker-Pool/Getty Images)

Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) is the latest member of Congress to sound off on the fate of Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked information about secret surveillance programs to media outlets.

In an interview with KCRA-TV last week, McClintock announced that he supports amnesty for Snowden, who is currently facing U.S. espionage charges and residing in Russia under temporary asylum.

"As a practical matter, I'd much rather have him in America talking to Americans than in Russia talking to Russians," the congressman explained to The Sacramento Bee this week. "More importantly, Congress was lied to about the existence of the NSA program that seized the phone and Internet records of millions of Americans without a warrant."

McClintock told the Bee that while Snowden may have violated anti-espionage laws, "there's a higher power ... and that's the Constitution."

"Government officials take an oath to protect the Constitution. Doesn't say anything about protecting the country," he asserted. "The reason is, if we lose the Constitution, we've lost our country."

Since leaking information on the NSA surveillance programs, Snowden has proved to be an enormously polarizing figure, drawing both praise and criticism from both ends of the political spectrum.

Last month, Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) proposed a resolution calling on President Barack Obama to seek another location for the September G-20 summit, in hopes that doing so would pressure Russia to turn Snowden over to the United States.

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