July 26, 2013 at 11:00 AM ET
More than a month after Edward Snowden’s leaks became public, his dad, Lon Snowden, spoke about his son and the country's perception of him with TODAY’s Matt Lauer.
“I am extremely disappointed and angry,” he told Lauer Friday. "I’ve watched closely the 36 members on the two intelligence committees and the American people don’t know the whole truth. The truth is coming.”
“There has been a concerted effort by many of these congressmen to demonize my son, to focus the issue on my son and not to talk about the fact that they had a responsibility to ensure that these programs were constitutional. They’ve either been complicit or negligent.”
Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor who disclosed details of government surveillance programs, is currently in a transport section of a Moscow airport. Authorities there are considering his temporary asylum request, according to his lawyer.
Attorney General Eric Holder announced Friday that the criminal charges Snowden faces do not carry the death penalty. He also said the U.S. won't seek the death penalty, even if Snowden were to face additional charges at some point that do carry the penalty.
Whatever they think of Edward Snowden himself, Americans have formed an opinion about the information he revealed. In a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, 56 percent of Americans said they were worried that the United States would go too far in violating privacy rights. That’s compared to 55 percent who thought, in the wake of 9/11, that America wouldn’t go far enough in monitoring terrorists.
The same poll showed that 11 percent of Americans view him positively, 35 percent view him negatively, and the rest are still not sure what to think.
Snowden's dad previously appeared on TODAY on June 28, acknowledging that his son broke U.S. law but saying "I don't feel that he's committed treason."
“I have confidence in my son,” Lon Snowden said. “I am absolutely certain that he is speaking the truth.”
While many government officials insist that the programs Edward Snowden exposed are crucial to our national security, his father sees a darker motive.
“Many of those people will go back and say we must fund these obscenely expensive programs that drive up massive profits for companies like Booze Allen Hamilton (because they’re vital to our national security) . . . It’s all about the money.”
So far, Snowden has heard nothing directly from his son, only sending messages through an intermediary recommended by WikiLeaks.
Though some have suggested WikiLeaks is using Edward Snowden for their own purposes, his father said “I am thankful for anybody who is providing him with assistance to keep him safe and secure. If WikiLeaks is doing that, I am thankful.”
Snowden blamed any negative impressions the public might have of his son on the media coverage of the leaks, and insisted that much of the government's response has been politically motivated.
Through his lawyer, he has written a letter to President Obama that cites Henry David Thoreau's philosophy of civil disobedience. He plans to send that letter Friday.
“This story is far from done," he told Lauer. "When I take my final breath I have to be comfortable with how I lived," he said. "I believe when my son takes his final breath, whether it’s today or 100 years from now, he will be comfortable with what he did.”