Nightly News   |  June 17, 2013

Snowden’s carefully timed leak

In a web chat with the British newspaper the Guardian, NSA leaker Edward Snowden said the U.S. had spied on past G-8 summits and claimed he had extraordinary access to personal data.  NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reports.

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>>> good evening. people all across this country and for that matter, all over the world will, continue to debate what edward snowden has done, exposing the kind of data immuning that has become routine and while that debate goes on, he is still talking. again today from overseas. he today delivered another carefully timed leak. timed to embarrass the u.s. and great britain just as a summit of world leaders get under way and tonight the consequences continue. we begin with our chief foreign affairs correspondent andrea mitchell in our d.c. newsroom. >

>> reporter: good evening, brian. the leak was timed to embarrass the u.s. and britaisbritish. "the guardian," reported that they spied on past conferences. decoded by the nsa.

>> what it does do for president obama , which is problematic, robs him of much moral authority in talking about this.

>> reporter: leaks about the u.s. hacking china also undercut the president when he met with president xi recently. no one should be surprised, in fact, we reported on "nightly news" 18 years ago, that the clinton white house spied on leaders in miami in 1994 . what foreign leaders didn't know that the supersecret security had wired the place snowden says he has unbelievable access to information .

>> he couldn't have done the things he is claiming he was able to do.

>> reporter: in a web chat , snowden wrote in i target an e-mail address and that sent something to you, joe america, the analyst gets it, all of it. ips, raw data , content, headers, everything. did he flee to hong kong to give information to china? he writes this is a predictable smear that i anticipated before going public as the u.s. media has a knee-jerk red china . and dick cheney .

>> i think he's a traitor. i think he has committed crimes in effect by violating agreements.

>> reporter: snowden wrote being called a traitor by dick cheney is the highest honor you can give an american. tonight on fox, his father pleaded for him to turn himself in.

>> i don't know what you've seen, but i would measure what you are going to do and not release anymore information.

>> defending the surveillance, the president told charlie rose to say there is a tradeoff doesn't mean we've abandoned freedom. i don't think anybody says we are no longer free because we have checkpoint at airlines.