Bill Clinton: Snowden an 'imperfect messenger'

 

Former President Bill Clinton on Wednesday said Edward Snowden has been an “imperfect messenger” in his effort to expose the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs.

Snowden’s leaks have “raised all of these questions about whether we can use technology to protect the national security without destroying the liberty, which includes the right to privacy, of basically innocent bystanders," Clinton said in a speech at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., according to reports.

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In previous interviews, Clinton has refrained from criticizing Snowden, who has been called a traitor, hacker and whistleblower. Nearly a year ago, Snowden began leaking highly classified U.S. government documents that have revealed the scope of the NSA’s operations.

President Obama has “taken this very seriously and has made some important recommendations,” to change the government’s surveillance strategy, Clinton said.

The reforms, however, must go further, he added. 

“We cannot change the character of our country or compromise the future of our people by creating a national security state which takes away the liberty and privacy we propose to advance,” Clinton said. “Don’t kill the goose that laid the golden egg.” 

On the other hand, Clinton said U.S. officials would “look like fools” if the government doesn’t examine new ways to find communication among terrorists “who try to plan big, incredibly lethal operations.”

The former president made technology the focus of his remarks to the midshipmen who have the option of majoring in cybersecurity at the Naval Academy.