Meet the Press   |  December 15, 2013

Richardson: No one should be able to reveal state secrets

Edward Snowden has no right to leak surveillance secrets, Bill Richardson says.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> why didn't we have a debate on the steps the government was taking in the name of our security?

>> we should have that debate, but i don't think snowden is a hero by far. i think he's caused a lot of damage to national security . who is he, 30 years old, a contractor, to decide that he discloses the strongest secrets in the u.s. government ? so my view, yeah, there should be a debate. it should be a debate in the congress. i think it's legitimate, for instance, to have this foreign intelligence court that decides who gets kind of spied upon. but let me also put another word in. i'm not going to be very popular. i was a policymaker for a while. what our intelligence community and the nsa gives policymakers is very useful for the national security of the united states . sure, you have to stop excesses, but to even think -- and i thought time's selection of the pope was great. but to even have snowden as somebody that is even being considered, i just don't see that. i think that's wrong. i don't think he's a traitor, but i think he should be prosecuted. nobody should have the right to disclose secrets, negotiations between our government on behalf of the people.

>> we have a cloak and dagger judicious system with regard to congress here, and you have people who aren't informed enough to make a decision.

>> i agree, i don't consider snowden a hero, but time wanted to consider him --

>> it's about impact.

>> it's about impact. his impact is significant not only in terms of our diplomatic relationships around the world, but putting it on the table, he has shifted the conversation politically as well. we do need to have this conversation, but he's had perhaps an unexpected effect, which is to alienate the millenials from the president, and they're less enchanted with him now primarily because of this surveillance issue. i think the key, what's missing from the conversation up to this point, has been transparency. you might be able to convince americans that some of this is necessary, but you ought to tell them you're doing it and why you're doing it.

>> here is one key form the president may or may not adapt, which is this metadata, the digital thumbprint, basically, the calls and things you visit could be warehoused by a third party, the phone company , but not by the government, which may be something the president will adopt.

>> that's a fascinating idea, but think about it. we're now going to trust the phone company with this data.

>> the phone company has always had it.

>> they've always had a certain amount of data and you always have this push and pull . it's almost like offense and defense in football. someone develops a new play and the defense comes back. we're at a point now where general hayden in that very good interview you had acknowledged this might be a moment to pull back. i'm wondering if it's possible to say two things are true simultaneously, governor richardson . it may be that snowden is wrong and ought to be prosecuted, but this is the only way we find out. even though members of congress do have information, they respond to public pressure . public pressure only comes from public debates and you only have a debate when you have someone who did something wrong like edward snowden .

>> i think the big cover-up i see is this levinson case in iran where the family of levinson was not, i don't think, told the truth about the status of the husband. i know we're not discussing it. so there are cover-ups, there are reforms that are needed in the intelligence community . but i just think unilaterally for somebody like snowden , a contractor, to be a liberator, i just don't see it.