McKeon: “We’re acting like children” on Snowden

Chairman Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) listens as Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and Adm. James Winnefeld, Jr, USN, testify before the House Armed Services Committee about the Defense Strategic Choices and Management Review in Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, August 1, 2013. (Mike Morones/Staff)

As our readers likely know, NSA leaker Edward Snowden was granted temporary asylum in Russia this morning. The asylum, which will last for one year, lets Snowden out of the Moscow airport terminal where he had been living for the last month while attempting to travel to a safe haven. More than that, it grants Snowden the right to live – or, if he chooses, to find employment- anywhere in Russia.

Predictably, US officials were less than thrilled about this turn of events. Snowden’s stay in Russia has already increased tensions between the old Cold War foes, and this decision by President Vladimir Putin certainly doesn’t help.

Rep. Buck McKeon, the California Republican who chairs the House Armed Services Committee, was asked about Snowden in a brief press scrum following a hearing of his committee this afternoon, and shared a few comments we thought our readers may find interesting.

When asked how the US should act in response to Russia’s decision, McKeon rhetorically asked “What can we do?” before going into more detail.

“One thing we can do is realize that Russia is maybe not our best friend at all times,” he said. “This street doesn’t go just one way. We caught some people here from Russia and we didn’t automatically turn them over to them. This is a chance for them to stick their finger in our eye. We’re acting like children on this.”

“I think it would be nice if our President, who wants to reset things with Russia, and Mr. Putin, who wants to come into this century, ought to work things out together and get this problem resolved. It’s a big problem for us. Snowden, the information he has given to others around the world, is very ,very hurtful to our nation, to be able to provide to our defense.”

McKeon was then asked if he thought President Obama should cancel a scheduled early September meeting in Russia as a result of the Snowden situation. While some members of Congress have expressed a desire to cut off contact with Russia – or in the case of South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, boycott the 2014 Winter Olympic Games being held February in the Russian city of Sochi – McKeon encouraged the President to  maintain a dialogue.

“The president has talked a lot about ‘we should talk,'” McKeon said. “We should talk with Iran, we should talk with other people. And yet when we have a problem, he doesn’t want to talk. I cant tell the president how to do his job, he knows more about the problem than obviousy I do. But I think we just ought to get it solved. That’s what a leader does, he fixes problems.”

Aaron Mehta

Aaron Mehta

Air Warfare Correspondent at Defense News
Aaron covers the Air Force for Defense News. In his spare time, he tweets about the Air Force for Defense News. Follow him @AaronMehta
Aaron Mehta
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