Is NSA leaker Edward Snowden a heroic defender of liberty or a reckless turncoat?
That debate has caused a rift within the Arlington Falls Church Young Republicans, after the group hosted constitutional scholar, civil libertarian and attorney Bruce Fein at an event in Clarendon.
Fein — who served as an Associate Deputy Attorney General in the Reagan Administration and called for the impeachment of President Obama in 2011 — is an outspoken supporter of Snowden and his disclosure of massive government surveillance programs. He also serves as the attorney for Snowden’s father.
Fein compared Snowden to Paul Revere at the Monday night event. That angered one woman in the audience, whose husband is on active duty in the military.
“[Snowden] has put military members like my husband, who is deployed overseas, in danger,” she said during the question-and-answer portion of the event. “If you ask people in the military intelligence community whether they consider him a whistleblower or a traitor, I can tell you overwhelmingly, they consider him a traitor.”
Fein was unapologetic.
“Your husband shouldn’t be there at all, he’s there because of a violation of the Constitution,” he said. “I think the greater crime was flouting the Constitution and sending people to send unconstitutional wars not for our liberty but for people who have no loyalty to the United States whatsoever and never will.”
Charles Hokanson, chairman of the Arlington County Republican Committee, took exception to Fein’s response, writing on Facebook at the time: “He just offended a military spouse so badly with his cavalier attitude to the safety of our soldiers abroad fighting in places he doesn’t think we belong that she just left the room.”
“I asked him to write her a letter of apology,” he continued. “I hope he does!”
A letter from Fein was later posted on the event’s Facebook page, sparking an intra-party debate over whether the letter was sufficiently apologetic or necessary in the first place. The discussion included more than 120 posts as of last night, but had been removed as of this morning.