Republican standard bearers are speaking out against Edward Snowden, the self-confessed leaker of top-secret documents detailing the National Security Agency's phone and Internet surveillance programs.
But at the same time, GOP libertarians like Sen. Rand Paul are raising serious questions about the impact of the government's surveillance program on civil liberties.
New York Rep. Peter King, chairman of the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, has called for Snowden’s extradition from Hong Kong, where he was last known to be hiding out.
King said the 29-year-old technical engineer should be "prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
Snowden, a former CIA employee who went public Sunday in interviews with The Guardian in the UK and The Washington Post, is hoping to seek political asylum, potentially in Iceland.
"The United States must make it clear that no country should be granting this individual asylum. This is a matter of extraordinary consequence to American intelligence," King said.
Donald Trump labeled Snowden a "bad guy."
"I don't like people like [Snowden] because there could be a national-security concern, and there probably is. At the same time, what he's doing is wrong and I think also what the government is doing is wrong.
"They're going way too far, [but] at the same time, you never like a guy like this."
House Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy acknowledged there are two sides to the argument.
"We want to protect our civil liberties," he said. "But there is a fine line here that we need to have greater accountability and greater transparency, and I think there are going to be a lot of questions asked."
McCarthy told Fox News he has "a real problem" with the NSA's reach. Yet when asked if Snowden should be treated as a "whistleblower" or be prosecuted, the California congressman said, "I would prosecute. If you're a whistleblower, you don't leave the United States. You don't go to a communist country.
"If you have grave concerns, then come before Congress."
House Intelligence Committee chairman Mike Rogers said Snowden had "released just enough information to literally be dangerous" and argued Snowden should have taken a different approach if he wanted to instigate change.
"He could come to the committees, if they had [concerns]. We have [inspector generals] that they can go to in a classified way if they have [concerns]."
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor told CBS News on Monday that Congress will launch a "very serious" investigation.
But libertarians in the party have taken a different approach, focusing more on what they see as the government's infringement on civil liberties.
Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky on Sunday said he wants to mount a class-action lawsuit before the Supreme Court to challenge the federal government's logging of phone calls and Internet activities.
"I'm going to be asking all the Internet providers and all of the phone companies: Ask your customers to join me in a class-action lawsuit," he said. "If we get 10 million Americans saying we don't want our phone records looked at, then maybe someone will wake up and something will change in Washington."
Sen. Mike Lee of Utah told Politico, "This is a good example of the fact that this is an issue that is neither Republican or Democrat. It's neither liberal nor conservative. It's simply American."
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