Ex-CIA director: Snowden should be ‘hanged’ if convicted for treason

Former CIA Director James Woolsey had harsh words Tuesday for anyone thinking about giving Edward Snowden amnesty, and argued the NSA leaker should be “hanged” if he’s ever tried and convicted of treason.

Woolsey, along with former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Hugh Shelton, spoke Tuesday in Washington in an interview with Fox News.

“I think giving him amnesty is idiotic,” Woolsey said. “He should be prosecuted for treason. If convicted by a jury of his peers, he should be hanged by his neck until he is dead."

Shelton called the prospect of giving Snowden amnesty a “grave error.”

The reaction comes after an official with the NSA task force assessing the leaks floated the idea of allowing Snowden safe passage back to the United States in exchange for a promise to end further leaking. 

Snowden said on Tuesday that he is willing to divulge information gathered by the NSA to Brazilian authorities in exchange for asylum. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff postponed a state visit to the United States in response to NSA spying on Brazilians.

White House spokesman Jay Carney did not indicate any change in the administration’s stance calling for Snowden to turn himself in to face charges.  “It remains our view that Mr. Snowden is accused of leaking classified information and that he faces felony charges here in the United States,” Carney said on Tuesday.

Rick Ledgett, a senior NSA official investigating the damage done by Snowden's leaks, disagrees with the White House and NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander and would like to at least open a dialogue with Snowden to prevent further classified information from being divulged.

A series of articles published by the Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald on documents leaked by Snowden have brought the NSA’s practice of collecting mobile phone records and monitoring Internet use by millions around the world under scrutiny. The NSA has consistently defended its practices as legal.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon, a George W. Bush appointee, said in a preliminary ruling, "I cannot imagine a more 'indiscriminate' and 'arbitrary invasion' than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval.”