WASHINGTON -- House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday that Edward Snowden, who has claimed responsibility for the leak of National Security Agency surveillance programs, should be prosecuted.
Snowden revealed the fact that the NSA was recording data on Americans' phone calls and mining data and information from major Internet providers in the United States and around the world.
"I think on three scores -- that is leaking the Patriot Act section 215, FISA 702, and the president's classified cyber operations's directive -- on the strength of leaking that, yes, that would be a prosecutable offense," Pelosi told reporters at her Capitol Hill news briefing. "I think that he should be prosecuted."
Section 215 is the part of the law that allows the agency to record the so-called metadata of every phone call in the country and hold the data for five years. Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is the part of law that allows the NSA to monitor Internet activity.
Pelosi is joining a number of Republican leaders, including House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who are calling for Snowden to face a court. Some others, including civil libertarians from both parties, have called Snowden a hero.
While Pelosi thought Snowden should be prosecuted, she also argued that the programs he revealed were not actually spying on Americans.
"That is not what either of these bills do," she said. "There are many protections for the American people, including strengthening the privacy and civil liberties board... Liberty is very important to us and privacy is essential to liberty."
Asked if she thought Congress should take any action, she suggested that more transparency would be useful, but seemed most concerned that the information leaked in the first place.
"How on earth can we have a situation where we are so vulnerable, so exposed, with so much information about how we acquire intelligence, to the point that the head of the [Director of National Intelligence] is saying that it seriously hurt our national security?" Pelosi said.
"How could we be so hurt by one person walking out the door with access to so much information? I think that's a question that Congress has to ask," she said.
Michael McAuliff covers Congress and politics for The Huffington Post. Talk to him on Facebook.