White House press secretary Jay Carney said on Monday that he would not comment on Edward Snowden, the source who came forward on Sunday as the person responsible for providing The Guardian and The Washington Post with top-secret documents uncovering the National Security Agency's secret surveillance programs.
"There has obviously been some news over the weekend," Carney said referring to Snowden revealing his identity. "There is obviously an investigation under way into this matter and for that reason I will not be able to discuss this individual or this situation."
Carney referred to President Obama's comments on the NSA security leaks on Friday. "The president talked on Friday on his views in general on some of the leaks that have occurred and I think he spoke fairly expansively about both his concerns and his beliefs that we need to strike the appropriate balance between national security ... and privacy," Carney said. He added that the president believes the appropriate balance has been struck but that it was "absolutely an appropriate topic of debate."
Carney found himself in a testy exchange with CBS News' Major Garrett, who wondered how the president could welcome a debate on government surveillance if such methods were previously classified until someone leaked top-secret documents. "This is not the manner by which he hoped to have this debate," Carney said. "And he is interested in having that debate and having this discussed. He believes it's in our interest as a nation to discuss and debate it and for us to collectively assess where that balance [between national security and privacy] should be struck."
When asked if U.S. authorities were looking for Snowden or knew of his whereabouts, Carney reitereated that there was an ongoing investigation. Snowden told The Guardian that he was in Hong Kong. The Washington Post reported on Monday that a guest by the name of Edward Snowden had been staying at the Mira Hotel, but checked out. It is unclear whether Snowden is still in Hong Kong.