Meet the Press   |  January 26, 2014

Chertoff on Snowden: 'Legitimate Questions Have Been Raised'

Former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff talks about allegations against NSA leaker Edward Snowden.

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

>> michael chertoff is here, as well, former head of homeland security and also head of the criminal division under president bush which is particularly relevant here. welcome back.

>> good to be back.

>> how would you handle this question? you heard the attorney general. what do you do to get snowden back?

>> well, you know, we have done deals in the past with spies but they've always been a deal with your take a very heavy prison sentence . when i was head of the criminal division , we made a deal with robert hansen . he agreed to give us everything he had given the russians but what we did is we put him in prison for life instead of the death patent.

>> is it irresponsible to call him a spy.

>> i think legitimate questions have been raised. i don't know what the facts will show. if you look at his behavior, the fact that he systematically went and collected information about a wide range of programs, techniques that are used to penetrate for intelligence collection and then he goes to russia of all places. it certainly raises legitimate questions, who benefited from this, how did he know where 0 go, how did he know to go to hawaii to find a place there was vultnerability. how did you know where to look? all of these i think are things which as chairman rogers said we ought to explore.

>> he's been push nished enough is essentially what his legal advisor is saying. there's a lot of sympathy for snowden and hatred for snowden . that will be viewed different ways.

>> i think that's pro pos terrous. he is the one hop fled. he left at the point at which he announced what he had done. he took hintz out of the country. he exiled himself. he went to russia. he is now regaling world with interviews and other kinds of public relations things. as far as i can tell, i haven't seen any evidence he's incarcerated and they keep saying we're going to give him asylum as long as he wants. this is not a person being punished. he has the spotlight and he's using it.

>> is there any reason for him to cop back to the u.s. and think that a, he can get a fair trial or that there's the potential for a reduced sentence that makes sense?

>> well, i think he can certainly get a fair trial . the question is, is he going to get a trial in which he gets convicted. there's a high likelihood he will. if he decides he wants to come back and wants to tell the u.s. government everything he stole, which is important, he might be able to bargain for some kind of a reduced sentence. but again, going back to the hansen case, i don't think we're talking about amnesty. we'd be talking about maybe life in prison , maybe 30 years, maybe 25 years. but not something that would be a slap on the wrist.

>> the sochi olympics you know this well. at a time when the russian leader is seeking to embarrass the united states with edward snowden , there's a real question whether the russians can secure these games. if you're head of homeland security right now in the united states , what are you worried about, what are you thinking about, what do you want to snow?

>> what i'd like to do is have a level of cooperation with the russians that allow us 0 to give them the benefit of our intelligence and our capabilities but also have visibility to what they're doing. that's what we did in 2008 with the chinese in the run up to the beijing olympics .

>> do you think we have that cooperation?

>> according to what has been reported, there is some cooperation but perhaps not quite as much as we would like. i don't know that they fully invited us or accepted our offer to give them a lot of assistance assistance. we have warships offshore in case there needs to be evacuation. i would hope there's a plan in place with the russians if we need to do it to take people out.

>> you talk about counter terror and making targets hard to attack. this is a pretty hard target , is it not?

>> well, the core event probably is a pretty hard target . a lot of troops there and a lot of capability. but as we saw today in maryland, have you soft targets at the periphery, restaurants, hotels, and depending how far you want to extend the perimeter out, you can even talk about moscow as being a target.

>> back home in that mall shooting, does there have to be a national effort to harden these soft targets , schools, malls, places where these attackers know they can really get a lot of coverage and a lot of acclaim for these kinds of attacks.

>> there has to be planning and preparation. part of what have that means is training people about what to do when there is an event. one of the things that happened here and also happened i think in other occasions is it was a swift response. that mitigates the damage. that's very important. in schools, for example, people have to know how to shelter in place. teachers have to have clear instructions how to protect kids. you can't make it a fortress but you can do things that will minimize the threat and mitigate the