NOW   |  June 28, 2013

More government leaks surface

While Edward Snowden remains hidden at a Moscow Airport, retired four-star Gen. James Cartwright has come under investigation for leaking details about a U.S. cyber attack on Iran. Wikileaks spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson joins MSNBC’s NOW with to discuss.

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

>>> this week began with the news that edward snowden had fled hong kong for russia .

>> we've got breaking news here that we are following this morning. nsa leaker edward snowden is on the move.

>> big news overnight. edward snowden fled hong kong on a russian commercial airliner and there are reports he may be headed to another communist country .

>> hong kong authorities allowed him to leave the country, reportedly on a flight to moscow .

>> five days later, already in pursuit of one leaker, the obama administration is now dealing with another. this time a former member of its own inner circle . last night nbc news was first to report that retired four- star general james cartwright is the target after justice department criminal investigation in to a leak last year to "the new york times." detailing a u.s. cyber attack on iran. that story written by the "times" david sanger revealed that the computer worm in 2010 destroyed 1 million centrifuges. cartwright who oversaw the program and who served as the nation's second highest ranking military officer has yet to be formally charged. the news came after president obama sought to down play the administration's quest to gain custody of snowden who is still believed to be in hiding in a moscow airport. obama also addressed the delicate diplomatic balancing act required in the wake of snowden 's leak.

>> we've got a whole lot of business that we do with china and russia and i'm not going to have one case of a suspect who we're trying to extradite suddenly being elevated to the point where i've got to start doing wheeling and dealing and trading on a whole host of other issues.

>> snowden is believed to have some 200 other secret documents in his possession. another of which was revealed by "the guardian" yesterday with the paper reporting that for two years the obama administration continued to bush era program in which the nsa collected bulk email today that before the program was ended in 2011 . snowden 's father lonnie told nbc's michael isikoff that he was sending a letter to attorney general eric holder saying he thinks his son would be prepared to return home if the doj allowed him to choose the location of his trial.

>> at this point i don't feel he's committed treason. he has in fact broken u.s. law in the sense that he has released classified information , and if folks want to classify him as a traitor -- in fact, he has betrayed his government. but i don't believe that he bewould betray the people of the united states .

>> the united states continued to defend the data mining programs saying yesterday they helped disrupt 54 terrorist activities , including 42 active plots, 13 of which were inside the united states .

>>> joining me now, wikileaks spokesm spokesman, thanks for coming back. obviously the most important question -- is edward snowden still hold up in the moscow airport?

>> i can't reveal his exact location or his travel plans.

>> the russians have revealed his exact lotion. they said he was in the moscow airport. wikileaks is paying for his travel. do you guys not know where he is.

>> we of course know where he is. we do have a hand of paying for his travel from hong kong to moscow , that's correct.

>> if he were to travel on to the next country, he's half indicated he wants to go to south america , wikileaks would pay for that, too? is.

>> that remains to be seen.

>> that but if you didn't pay for it, who would? isn't wikileaks providing him with legal counsel ? someone traveling with him?

>> there is a legal aid on his behalf traveling with him. he has access to persons in our legal team and we did connect our legal team with his legal advisors.

>> who's paying for those legal advisers?

>> our legal advisers? some we are paying ourselves and some are working pro bono .

>> i wonder if there was money from -- there is an organization that raises money for wikileaks . freedom of the press foundation. is that organization involved in paying for mr. snowden 's travel?

>> the money that we have access to comes from various sources. one is the freedom of the press foundation. we have a fund in france as well that's collecting money on our behalf. despite the banking block on us, we have funds in ice lan from prior to the banking blockade against the organization.

>> sky that because two journalists obviously mr. snowden gave on some of the leaked information to are on the board of the freedom of the press foundation. were you aware of that when wikileaks began paying for his travel?

>> i was aware of their position on the board of the freedom of press foundation, yes.

>> i want your reaction to something lonnie snowden , mr. snowden 's father, said. "i don't want him to put him in peril," meaning his son, "but i am concerned about those who surround him. wikileaks ' focus is not necessarily on the constitution of the united states but simply to release as much information as possible.

>> i think mr. snowden has been ill-informed by mainstream media in this had country and he has no accurate information about the organization. we are concerned about human rights . we are concerned about the freedom of speech and --

>> he mentioned the u.s. constitution .

>> of course we would support the constitution if it pertains to that issue.

>> let me ask you whether edward snowden was ill-informed about wikileaks in 2009 . that was his screen name . he was talking about a previous leak in a january 10 , 2009 report that president bush turned down a request for israelis to bunker busting bombs that it wanted to use to attack iran's main nuclear site. he put up wtf, "new york times," are they trying to start a war? was he essentially ill-informed as well when he said essentially "the new york times" was like wikileaks in a bad way for leaking information?

>> it has not been confirmed this is actually from fl mr. snowed.

>> actually, it has been confirmed.

>> if so, he's obviously changed his position in 2009 and every person should be allowed to change his opinion in a positive way as he has done.

>> i want to open it up to the panel. one of the additional countries added to the potential country hopping that mr. snoweden is doing is venezuela which has said they'd gladly accept mr. snowden . now we have a trifecta of countries that may be -- in addition to ecuador.

>> i am constantly shock by this story over the course of the week in that we have clearly an international group of people who are providing resources to keep someone who's broken american law from having to stand for justice in this country, in a way that i feel like if this were true of someone who had had committed a clear terrorist attack , or even someone who had simply come into this country illegally, wouldn't we look at sort of the idea that this father would say, well, he'll be happy to come home as long as he's not detained. the level of sort of privilege associated with such a discourse suggests that we should not be taking this seriously. i wonder if we're even taking it seriously enough, the idea that this individual, who as far as i can tell his opinion has changed, primarily to save his observe ski own skin. but his willing tose in take refuge in countries whose public information on human rights is in fact worse than the united states of america , for whom i have many important critiques. and yet the idea that the human rights violations in china, in venezuela, in ecuador, in russia would somehow be less relevant to him is clearly simply because he's only saving his own skin. in this country those who have decided to take a position of civil disobedience , because they love and care about their country and want to extend the constitution have always done so with a recognition that doing so also means standing for the consequences of breaking those laws and when they have done that, they have changed the country. but this going on the run thing? this is different. this is dangerous to our nation.

>> i want to clarify, the venezuelan president nicholas medoro said his government would almost certainly grant mr. snowden asylum if he should apply.

>> as i understand the constitution and what is at stake here, i have a reflection back to the nixon era when president nixon sat in the infamous interview with david frost when he said well when the president does it, it means that it is not illegal. that is the issue --

>> are you saying i would need to think more about the constitution?

>> we got now revelations about the collections of data on --

>> this is about his unwillingness to stand --

>> who sends what to whom, where he was when he sent it.

>> if you think about the journalists who have gone to jail in this country because they were unwilling to give up the name of their sources. for themvy great respect, because what they do is they recognize the value, for example, of the freedom of the press stated in the constitution. they break a law, a statute, but then they stand for the consequenc consequences. that's not what's happening here. we must recognize that this individual in these circumstances can now be pressured by nations that do in fact potentially cause harm to us as a nation and he in this attempt to save his own skin, it is how we know who conscientious objectors are, because they are always willing to stand for the consequences. his unwillingness to do it --

>> i'm sorry, unfortunately we are out of time. i want to point out as we go to break, the comparison to nixon is ill-informed because in this case the first thing mr. snowden leaked was a court order . did he not expose anything that was illegal. you may disagree with