As outspoken as ever, former U.S. Sen. Gordon Humphrey this week personally gave former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden strong support for leaking details of top-secret mass surveillance programs.
Guardiannews.com Tuesday released an email to Snowden from Humphrey, who served in the U.S. Senate as a Republican 1979 through 1990. In the message, conservative firebrand Humphrey tells the former CIA employee:
"Provided you have not leaked information that would put in harms way any intelligence agent, I believe you have done the right thing in exposing what I regard as massive violation of the United States Constitution."
Humphrey told UnionLeader.com in an interview Tuesday evening he emailed Snowden because he was "disappointed that no incumbent member of Congress has spoken out on what I see as a massive violation of the Constitution and the invasion of the privacy of nearly every citizen, in violation of the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches.
"There is no probable cause cited to believe that all the millions of us on whom the government is spying has any grounds to believe are engaged in any wrongdoing," said Humphrey, 72, who is also a former state senator who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2000 and 2002.
"It's been breath-taking to me that no one is speaking out on that. All of the firepower of the mighty United States government is directed on Edward Snowden and not so much as a BB is being launched against the nameless officials who are violating our constitutional rights every day," said Humphrey.
"I'm just trying to influence the discourse in a more balanced direction," said Humphrey.
Humphrey said that not even Snowden's critics have alleged that he has "divulged any information that puts in harm's way even one citizen. That being the case he's a whistleblower.
"If we let the government hound this guy while he exercises his right to asylum, then we are sending a message to all others in government to who see a reasonable opportunity to blow a whistle.
"If there is one word to describe the government these days, it's 'menacing,'" Humphrey told UnionLeader.com.
In his email to Snowden, Humphrey notes that he served on the Foreign Relations Committee, the Armed Services Committee and the Judiciary Committee during his 12 years in the Senate.
"I wish you well in your efforts to secure asylum and encourage you to persevere," he writes.
Guardiannews.com civil liberties and national security columnist Glenn Greenwald also released an email he received from Humphrey confirming the email to Snowden.
Humphrey wrote to Greenwald, "I object to the monumentally disproportionate campaign being waged by the U.S. Government against Edward Snowden, while no effort is being made to identify, remove from office and bring to justice those officials who have abused power, seriously and repeatedly violating the Constitution of the United States and the rights of millions of unsuspecting citizens.
"Americans concerned about the growing arrogance of our government and its increasingly menacing nature should be working to help Mr. Snowden find asylum. Former Members of Congress, especially, should step forward and speak out."
Greenwald also released Snowden's reply email to Humphrey.
"Thank you for your words of support. I only wish more of our lawmakers shared your principles -- the actions I've taken would not have been necessary.
"The media has distorted my actions and intentions to distract from the substance of Constitutional violations and instead focus on personalities. It seems they believe every modern narrative requires a bad guy. Perhaps it does. Perhaps, in such times, loving one's country means being hated by its government.
"If history proves that be so, I will not shy from that hatred. I will not hesitate to wear those charges of villainy for the rest of my life as a civic duty, allowing those governing few who dared not do so themselves to use me as an excuse to right these wrongs.
"My intention, which I outlined when this began, is to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them. I remain committed to that. Though reporters and officials may never believe it, I have not provided any information that would harm our people -- agent or not -- and I have no intention to do so.
"Further, no intelligence service -- not even our own -- has the capacity to compromise the secrets I continue to protect. While it has not been reported in the media, one of my specializations was to teach our people at DIA how to keep such information from being compromised even in the highest threat counter-intelligence environments (i.e. China).
"You may rest easy knowing I cannot be coerced into revealing that information, even under torture.
"With my thanks for your service to the nation we both love," Snowden reportedly concluded.