The first debate among Democratic presidential contenders was more than half over before moderator Anderson Cooper of CNN got around to asking a question about the biggest intelligence scandal in more than 40 years. You can read the full transcript here but the exchanges between Cooper and the candidates on Edward Snowden (via Ars Technica) is what’s worth the read:
COOPER: Governor Chafee, Edward Snowden, is he a traitor or a hero?
CHAFEE: No, I would bring him home. The courts have ruled that what he did—what he did was say the American…
COOPER: Bring him home, no jail time?
CHAFEE: … the American government was acting illegally. That’s what the federal courts have said; what Snowden did showed that the American government was acting illegally for the Fourth Amendment. So I would bring him home.
COOPER: Secretary Clinton, hero or traitor?
CLINTON: He broke the laws of the United States. He could have been a whistleblower. He could have gotten all of the protections of being a whistleblower. He could have raised all the issues that he has raised. And I think there would have been a positive response to that.
COOPER: Should he do jail time?
ClINTON: In addition—in addition, he stole very important information that has unfortunately fallen into a lot of the wrong hands. So I don’t think he should be brought home without facing the music.
COOPER: Governor [Martin] O’Malley, Snowden?
O’MALLEY: Anderson, Snowden put a lot of Americans’ lives at risk. Snowden broke the law. Whistleblowers do not run to Russia and try to get protection from Putin. If he really believes that, he should be back here.
COOPER: Senator Sanders, Edward Snowden?
SANDERS: I think Snowden played a very important role in educating the American people to the degree in which our civil liberties and our constitutional rights are being undermined.
COOPER: Is he a hero?
SANDERS: He did—he did break the law, and I think there should be a penalty to that. But I think what he did in educating us should be taken into consideration before he is (inaudible).