But the Senate intelligence committee chairman, Democrat Dianne Feinstein of California, contends the surveillance does not infringe on U.S. citizens’ privacy, and that it helped disrupt a 2009 plot to bomb New York City’s subways and played a role in the case against an American who scouted targets in Mumbai, India, before a deadly terrorist attack there in 2008. Feinstein spoke on ABC’s “This Week.”
Clapper has decried the revelation of the intelligence-gathering programs as reckless and said it has done “huge, grave damage.”
The spokesman for the Director of National Intelligence Shawn Turner said intelligence officials are “currently reviewing the damage that has been done by these recent disclosures,” and referred further comment to the Justice Department.
“Any person who has a security clearance knows that he or she has an obligation to protect classified information and abide by the law,” he added.
The disclosures come as the White House deals with managing fallout from revelations that it secretly seized telephone records of journalists at The Associated Press and Fox News.
Snowden says he was a former technical assistant for the CIA and a current employee of defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, which released a statement Sunday confirming he had been a contractor with them in Hawaii for less than three months, and promising to work with investigators.
Snowden could face many years in prison for releasing classified information if he is successfully extradited from Hong Kong, according to Mark Zaid, a national security lawyer who represents whistleblowers.
Hong Kong, though part of China, is partly autonomous and has a Western-style legal system that is a legacy from the territory’s past as a British colony. A U.S.-Hong Kong extradition treaty has worked smoothly in the past. Hong Kong extradited three al-Qaeda suspects to the U.S. in 2003, for example.