Is it treason yet?

Glenn Beck and Michael Moore are among those calling leaker Edward Snowden a hero. Libertarian icon Ron Paul has praised Snowden’s (and Guardian writer Glenn Greenwald’s) “great service.”

Others, including Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, have a decidedly different opinion of Snowden.

It may even surprise some people that liberal Democratic Senator Al Franken— author of “Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot”— defended the NSA program about which Snowden leaked:

Franken, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, says he got secret security briefings on the program and he says it prevented unspecified terrorist acts.

“I have a high level of confidence that this is used to protect us and I know that it has been successful in preventing terrorism,” Franken said.
“There are certain things that are appropriate for me to know that is not appropriate for the bad guys to know,” Franken said.

Franken said he believes it’s proper for the Justice Department to investigate the government worker who leaked the existence of the NSA program.

Now comes news that Snowden, holed up in Hong Kong, has revealed that the NSA has been hacking into Chinese computer networks since 2009.

Snowden reportedly showed reporter Lana Lam [of The South China Morning Post] documents that showed the NSA had been hacking computers in Hong Kong and on the mainland since 2009. He estimated there were hundreds of targets in Hong Kong and mainland China, including the Chinese University of Hong Kong. None of the documents revealed any information about Chinese military systems, Snowden said.

Depending on the level of detail Snowden provided, this potentially seems a far greater breach of national security than anything he revealed before.

Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs writes:

I’d like someone who supports what Snowden is doing to explain to me why this is not simply treason.

(Hat tip: Josh S)

Update: Commenter ocschwar makes a fair point. Article 3 Section 3 of the US Constitution states:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

So if Snowden returns to the US, he is more likely to face charges of espionage (serious enough) than treason.

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