Former CIA agent Valerie Plame said Wednesday that she views NSA leaker Edward Snowden as neither a hero nor a traitor, but that Americans should be grateful that he brought the conversation about liberty and security to the national forefront.
"I don't think [Snowden's] a hero, I don't condone what he did. At the same time he's certainly not a traitor as he was called by Dick Cheney," Plame told HuffPost Live host Mike Sacks. "In a way, we as U.S. citizens owe Edward Snowden a thank you for having brought this issue to the forefront and so that we can begin to have a serious and genuine conversation about these issues."
Plame also rolled her eyes at Cheney labeling Snowden a traitor, given the Bush administration's involvement in leaking her identity to columnist Robert Novak.
"The irony of people like Dick Cheney or Karl Rove whining and bemoaning the fact of the leak of intelligence -- given my history and certainly Dick Cheney's intimate involvement with the betrayal of my CIA identity -- is really something," she said.
Plame called for the resignation of Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, saying that "as a former intelligence officer" she finds it "astounding" that upwards of 60 to 70 percent of the United States' intelligence budget is spent on private contractors.
"One question might be, 'Why hasn't the Director of National Intelligence Clapper resigned?' He is ultimately responsible for the safeguarding of these secrets," she said. "How do you propose to keep secrets if you have that high a contracting force? Where is their loyalty? It's not necessarily going to be to their country, to the United States, it's going to be to the person writing their paycheck."
Plame said she has "great respect" for journalist Glenn Greenwald, who broke the Snowden story, saying "he has written eloquently for years on these issues in a very serious, sustained manner."
She added that she believes the conversation should focus less on Snowden and more on the questions he raised, since "his fate is already foregone."
"He will be abused, he will be punished," Plame said of Snowden. "Perhaps he could have done it in a different way, but that's not the conversation we should be having."