A deep distrust of government has led young Americans to hold up NSA leaker Edward Snowden as a hero, Sen. John McCain said Sunday.
“There’s a young generation who believes he’s some kind of Jason Bourne,” the Arizona Republican said during on “Fox News Sunday,” referring to the lead character in the Bourne movie trilogy who battled his own government, particularly the CIA.
Mr. Snowden’s revelations — including details of the National Security Agency’s data-collection efforts — have led to a debate on the national security vs. privacy question, and how to balance the two.
President Obama last week laid out a series of proposed reforms to government spying programs in an effort to reassure Americans that their Fourth Amendment rights aren’t being trampled. His proposals include having a privacy advocate argue against the federal government in court, more restrictions on the mass collection of phone records and other steps.
Mr. McCain, a widely respected figure on national security and his party’s 2008 presidential nominee, said the White House’s recommendations could be beneficial.
But there’s a deeper problem that must be addressed, he said.
“Right now there’s kind of a generational change. Young Americans do not trust this government,” Mr. McCain said. “Without trusting government you can’t do a lot of things.”
Mr. Snowden now has been granted asylum in Russia in another blow to relations between the U.S. and its old Cold War foe.