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I want to add to this. I want to add is in terms of — the president made the statement that Edward — that the president had enacted whistle-blower laws that protected contractors like my son Edward, that is absolutely untrue. Either the president is being misled by his advisers or he is intentionally misleading the American people.
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Transcript: This Week With George Stephanopoulos
Airdate: August 11, 2013
A Segment — Lon Snowden
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: Good morning. And welcome to This Week.
Spy ship: the president reforms America’s secret surveillance programs. Was his hand forced by this man?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, I don’t think Mr. Snowden was a patriot.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: This morning, Snowden’s father responds. Brand new details. Will his son come home to face trial? What will he reveal next? Snowden live only on This Week.
Plus breaking this morning, are embassies reopen after that worldwide terror alert. Are we still at risk?
And why is Donald Trump stumping in Iowa?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The Republican Party is in serious trouble.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: The powerhouse roundtable weighs in all the week’s politics right here on this Sunday morning.
ANNOUNCER: From ABC News This Week with George Stephanopoulos starts now.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning.
In the news overnight, a dramatic rescue: Hannah Anderson, that kidnapped San Diego teenager is safe a after an all-out man hunt ended in the Idaho wilderness.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL GORE, SAN DIEGO COUNTY SHERIFF: James Lee DiMaggio was shot and killed by an FBI tactical agent. Hannah Anderson was located with DiMaggio. She appears well…
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: And Hannah will be reunited with her father this morning.
Overseas, one of the deadliest days for Iraq for years. Nearly 70 people killed from a series of car bombs all timed to hit those celebrating the end of Ramadan.
And across that region, 18 of the 19 American embassies and consulates closed after a global terror alert are open again.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: And Martha, are the embassies opening again now because U.S. officials believe those drone strikes in Yemen this week actually got plotters?
MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: George, officials I’ve spent the weekend talking to say the plotters of this specific plan were not killed in those strikes in Yemen, but the dead are part of what they called the network of terrorists trying to kill Americans.
Intelligence officials believe the plan in Yemen was to send a truck bomb into the U.S. embassy there. But a senior U.S. official now tells me that because of all the actions taken they’ve — the terrorists have likely moved the explosives out of the vehicle and are changing tactics, adding we think that this imminent threat has dissipated, but fear they have gone back to ground waiting for the next opportunity to strike.
So George, this immediate threat may have passed, but the threat of terrorism really never passes.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And Martha, we also heard from U.S. officials that they believe the NSA surveillance programs may have helped track this emerging threat. We saw the president come out on Friday announcing some reforms in those programs, also had some pretty tough words for the NSA leaker Edward Snowden, said he was not a patriot. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Mr. Snowden ‘s been charged with three felonies. If, in fact, he believes that what he did was right, then like every American citizen, he can come here, appear before the court with a lawyer, and make his case.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, Martha, what have you been able to learn about what U.S. officials are trying to do to actually get Snowden right now?
RADDATZ: Well, you know, some officials I’ve talked to wish that a deal could be struck with Snowden that would bring him back to the U.S. Make no mistake. One official said Snowden has done irrefutable damage. The more the terrorists know how we can monitor them, the less we will be able to. And that is the single most important asset we have.
But some officials say we don’t know all of what Lon Snowden is interviewed on ABC’s ‘This Week’ has, we don’t want him in the hands of the Russians. And whatever message it would send by making a deal with them, he’s already gotten the president of the United States to make some changes.
But the Justice Department has given no indication a deal is in the works.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But some pushing for it. OK, Martha, thanks very much.
Now to the exclusive interview with Edward Lon Snowden is interviewed on ABC’s ‘This Week’, the family’s lawyer, Bruce Fein. Thank you both for joining us this morning.
You just heard there some U.S. officials, according to Martha Raddatz, believe that a deal may be in the United States’ interest. Do you think that’s something your son is open to?
SNOWDEN: I can tell you that I’m not open it. And that’s what I’ll share with my son in terms of a plea deal at this point.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You’re not open to it.
SNOWDEN: Not open to it. At this point, what I would like is for this to be vetted in open court for the American people to have all of the facts. What I have seen is much political theater. I was disappointed in the president’s press conference. I believe that’s driven by his clear understanding that the American people are absolutely unhappy with what they’ve learned and that more is going to be forthcoming.
So again, and I believe much of what he suggested is superficial. We can go over that point by point if you would like, but a deal — the only deal will be true justice. You know, justice should be the goal of our government and is also the goal of a civil society.
FEIN: Those are the words of James Madison.
I could make these points, George. Number one, we now have a date for visiting Moscow.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You’re going to Moscow?
FEIN: We have visas, we have a date, which we won’t disclose right now because of the frenzy.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But it’s imminent?
FEIN: Very soon. And we intend to visit with Edward and suggest criminal defense attorneys who have got experience in Espionage Act prosecutions. There have only been ten in over 100 years. We think, also, it’s especially important to go back to what President Obama said about Edward not being a patriot. It was the voice of the American revolution, Thomas Payne who defined a patriot as someone who saves his country from his government.
And we also heard about the alleged disasters that would ensue to the United States because of what Edward has done. Let’s go back to the Bradley Manning case, when it came to the damage phase, the United States conceded not one person has been injured and impaired because of what Bradley Manning disclosed.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What was your reaction when you heard the president say your son is not a patriot?
SNOWDEN: I would say — again, I think he was put in a tough spot. There were many questions that should have been asked at that press conference that were not. I would have liked to see them ask about the DEA special operation division, many other things — his treatment of whistle-blowers. But in terms of him characterizing my son as a patriot, or others like Peter King who characterized him as a traitor, what I would say is that my son has spoken the truth. He has sacrificed more than either the president of the United States or Peter King have ever in their political careers or their American lives. So how they choose to characterize him really isn’t…
STEPHANOPOULOS: But (inaudible) you say you’re not open to a deal, but you are — it does sound like you’re going to encourage your son to come here back and face trial?
FEIN: I think, George, I can add — because I wrote a letter with Lon to the attorney general of the United States saying we would like to discuss conditions that would make it permissible.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Right. You said no pre-trial detention, no gag order, and he would choose the venue.
FEIN: No, no, no, a venue that was impartial, because of the history of the Eastern District of Virginia being a graveyard for defendants.
But, those, George, were not stated as ultimatums. They were subjects for discussion, with non-circumvention clauses in there. Just because we understand, we can’t dictate what the Department of Justice does.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And as a father, you want your son to come home.
SNOWDEN: As a father, I want my son to come home if I believe that the justice system that we should be afforded as Americans is going to be applied correctly. At this point, when you consider many of the statements made by our leaders, leaders in congress, they are absolutely irresponsible and inconsistent with our system of justice. They have poisoned the well, so to speak, in terms of a potential jury pool.
Where my son chooses to live the rest of his life is going to be decision. What I would like at some point in time for him to be able to come back to the U.S. Whether he’s going to live the rest of his life here, and face this, because I believe that the truth will shine through. It’s clear that the American people, regardless of what laws have been passed by congress…
STEPHANOPOULOS: I was going to say, it does appear that he broke the law.
George, that’s simply irresponsible to suggest before a trial someone has broken the law. It may well be that what he disclosed is protected by the first amendment. The president himself has already conceded there’s something irregular about the way the NSA…
STEPHANOPOULOS: Although, the president pointed out that he had other avenues open to him…
FEIN: Yes. Let’s go that. And what he said was, oh, Mr. Snowden should have gone to the congressional oversight committees. The congressional oversight committees have gone on record, Dianne Feinstein, he’s guilty of treason. These were the committees that knew for seven years what was going on and refused to disclose it to the American people. The best was some cryptic statements.
If the American knew what was going on, they would be stunned.
And Edward Snowden is supposed to go to them? That seems rather implausible, because they were the ones who were responsible for the secrecy.
SNOWDEN: I want to add to this. I want to add is in terms of — the president made the statement that Edward — that the president had enacted whistle-blower laws that protected contractors like my son Edward, that is absolutely untrue. Either the president is being misled by his advisers or he is intentionally misleading the American people…
STEPHANOPOULOS: You don’t think he would have been protected by the whistle blower status?
SNOWDEN: Absolutely not.
And maybe at some point, we should go through that. You know, just hypothetically, let’s imagine that Edward Snowden said, wow, there’s a problem — let’s say he got on an airline in Honolulu and he chose to fly to Washington, D.C., lands at Dulles and he actually gets an audience with, oh, let’s say, Peter King or Dianne Feinstein, how do we think that he would have been received if he had a private audience with them? We have seen how they reacted, even when the truth comes out, they spin the truth, they try to hide it from the American people. He would have been buried under the capital. And we would have never known the truth.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Final question. I know you haven’t been in direct contact with your son, but what do you know about his condition right now?
FEIN: I’ll just say that having spoken with Anatoly Kucherena, who is his Russian attorney, Anatoly has said he’s safe. He obviously is exhausted. But he’s now needing a period of time where he can recoup his energy level and reflect on what he wishes to do going forward.
And that’s from Mr. Kucherena. We hope to meet with him very soon with Edward in the next weeks.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Good luck with that. Thank you both for joining…
FEIN: Thank you.
SNOWDEN: Thank you, sir.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And let’s bring in now the chairs of the congresses two foreign affairs committee, Democratic Senator Robert Menendez, the chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee, Republican congressman Ed Royce, the chairman of the House foreign affairs committee.
Senator, let me begin with you, you heard this from Lon Snowden, his attorney Bruce Fein, they don’t believe that Ed Snowden could have gotten a fair hearing had he come to congress.
MENENDEZ: I don’t think that’s true.
Look, I as a father appreciate the vigorous defense that Mr. Snowden is providing for his son. But in my view, Ed Snowden is a fugitive who deserve to be in an American courtroom not in asylum in Russia. And I believe he would have gotten a fair hearing. As a matter of fact, all the time issues related to our government by whistle-blowers who come forth and bring those issues to the Congress’ attention is often the venue for action. So the reality is, I don’t think he needed to undermine America’s national security to pursue whatever he thought his conscience led him to do. And I do believe there’s a process by which he could have ultimately pursued his interest in a way that doesn’t undermine the national security of the United States.
When we have our sources and methods known by our enemies, we undermine the national security of the United States. And I would just simply say, you know, it’s easy since we have not, thank God, had an attack on American soil since September 11th, to demonetize the threat, but the threat is real, and the terrorists have to only get lucky once. We have to do it right 100 percent of the time. That’s a tough stance (ph).
STEPHANOPOULOS: And Chairman Royce, a key member of your committee, Representative Dana Rohrabacher from California who’s chair of the subcommittee dealing with Russia, seems also to have some sympathy with Edward Snowden. Here is what he said yesterday on C-SPAN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DANA ROHRABACHER, R-CALIF.: In fact, he was being loyal to the rest of us by letting the American people know that their government was getting out of hand. Accepting him for asylum, I think, was not as hostile an act as it’s being portrayed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you agree with those views on Edward Snowden and Russia?
ROYCE: No, I do not. And we have to keep in mind here that the conundrum we’re in is one in which Al Qaida is first trying to learn how we track them, and second, you know, with this new master bomb-maker that they’ve used in Yemen to develop this new strategy — the underwear bomber, for example, his attempted attack was at the behest — at the — with the support of this master bomb-maker.
This master bomb-maker now is teaching his trade, we happen to know, to a lot of other bomb-makers in that part of the world, in Yemen, and they’re going on the Internet with this capability, and with the hope of bringing into the United States agents to carry out these types of attacks. Attacks which are undetectable.
And so we’re in the process of trying to monitor what Al Qaida is doing overseas and here in the United States in order to try to replicate that particular attempted attack and to expand it demonstrably. And so when you have someone who is giving out the means and methods in which we’re tracking Al Qaida, it is a problem for the United States.
And secondarily, when we’re talking about the former head of the KGB, President Putin in Russia, this has not been an ally. As you know, the administration has tried to engage him on several issues such as missile defense, and has worked with him on trade issues. And we have not seen any reciprocation from the Russians on this, because this former KGB agent still has a sense of hostility to the West and to the United States.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, Senator Menendez, how do we get this relationship with Russia back on track? The president says there’s nothing — no bad relations between he and President Putin personally, but they do seem to be at odds on just about every major issue.
MENENDEZ: Well, look, you know, Russia should be looking towards how do they achieve a prosperous future for all of their citizens versus going back to an authoritarian past. And we seem to be more invested in this effort to create a relationship with Russia that can be productive for both countries more than Putin is. And so it seems to me that as we’ve tried to restart this relationship several times, that maybe now is a moment to pause and think about how we’re going to move forward with Russia.
They are unresponsive to us as it relates to the tragedies that are going on in Syria. They are unresponsive to us as it relates to further nuclear arms reduction. They are unresponsive when they violate the rights of gay and lesbians, including foreign visitors who would come to Russia and could be arrested. They are unresponsive when they ultimately stop the adoptions by Americans of Russian children.
So I look at all of that and so much more, and I say to myself, it’s time to pause and think about what this relationship is going to be and how we are going to pursue it, in a way that ultimately promotes the national interests and security of the United States.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, Congressman Royce, we have just a few seconds left. Do you think that Ed Snowden would get a fair trial in the United States?
ROYCE: I think he could get a fair trial in the United States. And I think that the concern here is that in — in going to China and going to Russia, and in particular with respect to the authorities that he’s meeting with in Russia, I think this further compounds the problem for U.S. intelligence. And I think we have existing whistle-blower capabilities here in the United States. On a regular basis, whistle-blowers come forward, give information to Congress, and we attempt to address those issues. Going to China and going to Russia was not the solution to the problem. It compounds our difficulties in the United States with respect to Al Qaida.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Congressman, Senator, thanks for your time this morning.
ROYCE: Thank you.
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