Sen. Rand Paul raised some eyebrows when he stated that he does not have a lot of sympathy in regards to whistle-blower Bradley Manning’s verdict and a several surprising statements concerning NSA leaker Edward Snowden at a Cato University event.
Manning faces a maximum jail sentence of 136 years with multiple convictions of Espionage Act violations, but was declared “not guilty” for aiding the enemy.
Sen. Paul reasoned that there need to be some laws that protect certain secrets and that Manning put many lives at risk by releasing millions of pages “willy-nilly”. His main concern is that whistle-blowers break laws in order to reveal state secrets.
“There do have to be laws to protect some secrets. I think if you’ve got the, you know, the plans on how to make a nuclear bomb that is a state secret. If you give that to the enemy, that is being treasonous,” said the Senator from Kentucky, “Even if you reveal it, you just have to have laws against that. What Manning did was just willy-nilly, just released millions of pages of things and I think some people have said there is potentially some harm from that. You know individual agents that could have been killed or put at risk from this. So there is a problem with that. So I just can’t support that.”
Paul made an effort to bring a distinction between the NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning who were both charged with leaking diplomatic documents, but asserted that there needs to be justice when whistle-blowers break the law.
“If you are doing something for a political purpose; you know, in fact, in some ways the Snowden case is a little bit different,” said Paul, “But even with the Snowden case, I still think you have to have laws against what he did. So he did break the law.”
He makes the case that Snowden could have a defense of making officials accountable for their own actions, but the Senator would still have Snowden incarcerated for breaking the law.
“Snowden, if he were here, could maybe make the defense ‘Well I released this information because I’m a whistle blower. I’m telling you the head of the intelligence agency isn’t telling the truth. So I’m correcting a lie by another official.’ Some have said he would have had an easier time with that argument if he had come to a member of Congress and gone through the official whistleblower, kind of, pathway,” said Paul, “I think they still would have probably put him in jail and thrown away the key.”