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5 Hillary Clinton Quotes on Executive Power, Spying, and Privacy

Although still reeling from a recent scandal over deleted e-mails, state department business conducted on a private account and separate server, Hillary Clinton announced she was running for president on Sunday. Related to these issues are 5 Hillary Clinton quotes and positions on executive power, the National Security Agency (NSA), and spying in general.

1. Edward Snowden

When NSA leaker Edward Snowden fled the United States, Clinton was puzzled why he sought asylum under Vladimir Putin. While not outright calling Snowden a traitor, Clinton said his actions assisted terrorists and other countries. In criticizing Snowden’s decision to go to Russia, she seemingly equated American and Russian espionage practices by saying, “It’s not like the only government in the world doing anything is the United States.”

2. Torture

During a debate on torture during 2006, U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton admitted “severity” may be needed in some interrogation situations. Despite prohibitions in the Eighth Amendment against “cruel and unusual punishments,” Clinton sought legal remedy for severe interrogations:

“I have said that those are very rare, but if they occur there has to be some lawful authority for pursuing that . . . Again, I think the president has to take responsibility. There has to be some check and balance, some reporting. I don’t mind if it’s reporting in a top secret context.” – Hillary Clinton

3. Spying

WikiLeaks published diplomatic cables revealing that while serving as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton instructed her subordinates to spy on fellow diplomats and collect information on world leaders. Those leaked reports stated that she wanted “fingerprints, facial images, DNA, and iris scans” as well as “to obtain passwords, personal encryption keys, credit card numbers, frequent flyer accounts, and other data connected to diplomats.”

4. Libya War and War Powers Act

Without consulting Congress, President Barack Obama in 2011 committed U.S. air power in the Libyan civil war that ultimately deposed longtime ruler Moammar Qaddafi. Answering claims that the action was unconstitutional and also violated the War Powers Act, California U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman (D) reported that Clinton spoke in a closed-door congressional meeting. Sherman said the administration would notify Congress of its war plans, but not request its approval, “[Clinton] said they are certainly willing to send reports [to us] and if they issue a press release, they’ll send that to us, too.”

5. Patriot Act

Like all U.S. senators except one, Hillary Clinton voted to authorize the Patriot Act in 2001. When campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008, she tried to paint Sen. Obama, a critic of the 2001 act, as disingenuous when he, like Clinton, voted for re-authorization. She charged him, saying, “You said you would vote against the Patriot Act – you came to the Senate and voted for it.” Clinton’s case was ineffective in two ways. It was noted that Obama, who was not in Washington in 2001, worked and voted for a revised version of the Patriot Act. Additionally, as support for the Patriot Act was waning, Clinton argued that supporting and continuing the Patriot Act were winning political issues.