China is back on the White House’s naughty list after letting Edward Snowden leave Hong Kong, and Russia has a chance to get on the nice list.
“We are just not buying that this was a technical decision by a Hong Kong immigration official,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters at his briefing Monday. “This was a deliberate choice by the government to release a fugitive, despite a valid arrest warrant. And that decision unquestionably has a negative impact on the U.S.-China relationship,” he added.
He also called on Russia to send Snowden to the United States to face charges for leaking classified information, noting recent cooperation between the two countries after the Boston Marathon bombings and in other law enforcement cases.
“We do expect the Russian government to look at all the options available to them to expel Mr. Snowden back to the United States,” he said.
Carney also made the sharpest personal comments to date from the White House about Snowden himself — while making backhanded slams on China, Russia and other countries.
“Mr. Snowden’s claim that he is focused on supporting transparency, freedom of the press and protection of individual rights and democracy is belied by the protectors he has potentially chosen — China, Russia, Ecuador, as we’ve seen,” Carney said. “His failures to criticize these regimes suggests that his true motive throughout has been to injure the national security of the United States, not to advance Internet freedom and free speech.”
Carney toward the end of the briefing was challenged by a Russian journalist who called Snowden a “classic political dissident” akin to dissidents in the Soviet era that the United States supported.
Carney dismissed the comparison.
Later on Monday, President Barack Obama was asked at an unrelated event whether he believed the Russian government would expel Snowden or otherwise aid the U.S. in capturing him.
“What we know is, is that we’re following all of the appropriate legal channels, and working with various other countries to make sure that rule of law is observed,” Obama said. “And beyond that, I’ll refer to the Justice Department that has been actively involved in the case.”
Leaders from military and veterans service organizations joined Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Kelly Ayotte , R-N.H., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., at a press conference to urge the Senate to replace a provision in the budget proposal that cuts retirement benefits for veterans. Wicker, Ayotee, and Graham earlier called for a bipartisan solution to replace the $6.3 billion in cuts to military retiree benefits.
Each year since 1990, CQ Roll Call has reviewed the financial disclosures of all 541 senators, representatives and delegates to determine the 50 richest members of Congress. This year's report, derived from forms covering the calendar year 2012, shows it took a net worth of $6.67 million to crack the exclusive club.