Defending the nation's mass surveillance programs because "people were desperate to avoid another [9/11] attack," Hillary Clinton, speaking at University of Connecticut on Wednesday night, noted that a balance must be found to "make sure that we're not infringing on Americans' privacy, which is a valued, cherished personal belief that we have." But her most controversial comments were swved for Edward Snowden, as she though it "odd that he would flee," since, she noted, "we have all these protections for whistle-blowers, " and concluded rather cryptically that, "turning over a lot of that material... gave all kinds of information, not only to big countries, but to networks and terrorist groups and the like."
As The National Journal reports,
"People were desperate to avoid another attack, and I saw enough intelligence as a senator from New York, and then certainly as secretary [of State], that this is a constant—there are people right this minute trying to figure out how to do harm to Americans and to other innocent people," Clinton said. "So it was a debate that needs to happen, so that we make sure that we're not infringing on Americans' privacy, which is a valued, cherished personal belief that we have. But we also had to figure out how to get the right amount of security."
As for Snowden's role in exposing the NSA programs, Clinton insinuated that she found his motives suspicious.
"When he emerged and when he absconded with all that material, I was puzzled because we have all these protections for whistle-blowers. If he were concerned and wanted to be part of the American debate, he could have been," she said. "But it struck me as—I just have to be honest with you—as sort of odd that he would flee to China, because Hong Kong is controlled by China, and that he would then go to Russia—two countries with which we have very difficult cyberrelationships, to put it mildly."
Clinton stressed the strangeness of Snowden's decision to flee to countries that have perpetrated cyberattacks against the U.S. She noted that when State Department officials would travel to Russia or China on diplomatic business, they would leave their cell phones aboard the plane with their batteries taken out. "It's not like the only government in the world doing anything is the United States," she said.
"I think turning over a lot of that material—intentionally or unintentionally—drained, gave all kinds of information, not only to big countries, but to networks and terrorist groups and the like. So I have a hard time thinking that somebody who is a champion of privacy and liberty has taken refuge in Russia, under Putin's authority."
With sarcasm creeping into her voice, Clinton implied that Snowden acted all too friendly toward Vladimir Putin, whose country has been harboring Snowden since last August