John Lewis Insists He Wasn’t “Praising” Edward Snowden’s Actions; Must Be "Condemned"

eyes on the prizeWhite HouseRepresentative John Lewis made some news in an interview with The Guardian where he refused to call Edward Snowden, who leaked information on the NSA’s massive surveillance operations to that newspaper and to the Washington Post, a criminal or a traitor. From the original article:

Asked in interview with the Guardian whether Snowden was engaged in an act of civil disobedience, Lewis nodded and replied: "In keeping with the philosophy and the discipline of non-violence, in keeping with the teaching of Henry David Thoreau and people like Gandhi and others, if you believe something that is not right, something is unjust, and you are willing to defy customs, traditions, bad laws, then you have a conscience. You have a right to defy those laws and be willing to pay the price."

"That is what we did," he added. "I got arrested 40 times during the sixties. Since I've been in Congress I've been arrested four times. Sometimes you have to act by the dictates of your conscience. You have to do it."

…When it was pointed out to Lewis that many in Washington believed that Snowden was simply a criminal, he replied: "Some people say criminality or treason or whatever. He could say he was acting because he was appealing to a higher law. Many of us have some real, real, problems with how the government has been spying on people."

He added: "We had that problem during the height of the civil rights movement. People spied on, and got information on Martin Luther King junior, and tried to use it against him, on the movement, tried to plant people within different organisations – that probably led to the destruction of some of those groups."

Lewis now says in a statement that news reports about the Guardian interview are “misleading” and pointed out he got the British newspaper to retract the word “praise” from their headline on the article.

Though Lewis voted for the Amash-Conyers Amendment which would defund portions of the NSA surveillance operation Snowden disclosed, and told the Guardian he had “real, real, problems with how the government has been spying on people,” he insisted in his statement that he does “not agree with what Mr. Snowden did” and that Snowden “damaged American international relations and compromised our national security” and “may have jeopardized human lives. That must be condemned.”

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  • Outlaw||

    I'm guessing Obama's people got to him.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Obama threatened to pan Lewis' new comic book.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Did he draw the comic, or just put his name on it?

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Put his name on it. Drawing comics requires more talent.

  • Beowulf||

    damn - first time in recorded history that I agree with John Lewis on anything and he goes and recants the next day...

  • kinnath||

    It's always bad news when the HNIC calls.

  • ||

    If by "Obama's People" you mean 90% of African Americans.

    Doing anything to undermine public support for the nations First Black President is tantamount to treason in the black community. Maybe someone accused him of helping Republicans and threatened to call him an Uncle Tom.

  • Jon Lester||

    Pretty much exactly what people were saying at the AJC, because it sounds like such a canned statement. You'd think he, of all people, even at his age, would recognize some irony in now belonging to the apparatus that controls an unjust state.

  • Paul.||

    What Outlaw said.

  • Paul.||

    Was Lewis the guy that the Occupiers wouldn't let speak when he was there to praise their protest?

  • Paul.||

  • Outlaw||

    That guy is like totally old, y'know, and what does he know about the bankkk$ter$ and the 1% anyway?

  • Paul.||

    Apparently, it was all a big misunderstanding. The occupiers were trying to show us how life would be under their preferred system, and Lewis was cast into the margins in favor of 'process'. Or something. But they assured him they really liked him, and he could come back.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    "The occupiers were trying to show us how life would be under their preferred system"

    A world of diseased, smelly censorship?

  • PapayaSF||

    He's also the guy who recently tried to claim that there was really nothing to the IRS scandal.

  • ||

    How does that work exactly? You are a high profile figure and you criticize shitweasel and....what? Rohm sends you a fish head? You get a phone call from a blocked number making you an offer you cant refuse?
    Or maybe your friends just start warning you to back down without mentioning that they got the phone call?
    A photo of your kids getting on a school bus appears under your windshield wiper?

    Can someone explain to me the difference between this government and a criminal conspiracy?

  • ||

    I can only imagine the shit that Paul, Cruz, etc. are having to put up with, and not just from the Left.

  • SugarFree||

    No. A staffer sends and intern to talk to an intern that talks to a staffer who tells Lewis that OBAMA IS DISPLEASED in language that is heavily coded so nothing can be used against them if it ever leaked.

  • Brett L||

    What? No, man. The CBC called him up and asked him why he was violating Rule #1.

  • SugarFree||

    Rule #1? Never tell a one-night stand your real name? What does that have to do with this?

  • Brett L||

    Rule #1 for the CBC: Never embarrass a brother.

  • SugarFree||

    Christian Broadcasting Company?

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Children's Book Council.

  • Brett L||

    Congressional Black Caucus. Of which both Messers Obama and Lewis have been members.

  • SugarFree||

    They are brothers? Like half-brothers or something?

  • Brett L||

    Goddammit. You've already trolled me twice.

  • Enough About Palin||

    Cocks Balling Cunts?

  • Jon Lester||

    Hey, we're talking about an administration that can gin up boycotts against "racial profiling" in Florida, yet distract everyone from noticing that they want the very architect of stop-and-frisk to head DHS.

  • voluntaryJoe||

    Can someone explain to me the difference between this government and a criminal conspiracy?

  • Live Free or Diet||

    Criminals don't enjoy the pretense of legitimacy.

  • voluntaryJoe||

    (Some)criminals don't enjoy the pretense of legitimacy.

  • Raston Bot||

    Words are wind.

    Lewis voted for the Amash-Conyers Amendment

    That's what matters.

  • PS wanders the Wasteland||

    “may have jeopardized human lives..."

    How in the fuck does anything Snowden said or did jeopardize lives?

  • PS wanders the Wasteland||

    Other than his own or other possible whistleblowers?

  • ||

    OMG! The terrorists know we are spying on them now.

  • CE||

    Snowden is technically a(n alleged) criminal, but he's no traitor -- his (allegedly) illegal actions exposed the traitors, so he should be considered a hero.

  • Raston Bot||

    No no no, everything he leaked isn't true according to the NSA and thus he's only a fantastical liar.

  • ||

    Strangely, nobody's actually said that anything he leaked isn't true.

  • Paul.||

    This. Not a person has said, "We're not spying!"

    Quite the contrary, they've said, "He's leaked secrets!" If you're pissed that secrets were leaked and doing you damage, the secrets must be, by definition, true.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Grant a joint pardon to Smowden and the bald bureaucrat who lied to the Senate. With that gesture to moral equivalence, the nation can move forward.

    Oh, they're letting the bald bureaucrat go free without even the formality of a pardon? Why, that's strange.

  • creech||

    "People spied on, and got information on Martin Luther King junior, and tried to use it against him, on the movement"

    Wasn't this done at the direction of some dude named Robert F. Kennedy? Did RFK ever apologize (while he had the opportunity) or, being a Kennedy, there was no need to apologize to King's supporters?

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    He was dreamy! What were you saying about those wiretaps J Edgar Hoover put on Martin Luther King?

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