So now both Dianne Feinstein, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and John Boehner, the Republican Speaker of the House, are on record calling Edward Snowden a traitor. Meanwhile, per the New York Times, the NSA and the Justice Department are rapidly moving up towards the failsafe line where efforts to secure Snowden’s extradition for prosecution (assuming he can be found; he’s now left his Hong Kong hotel for unknown destinations) would be triggered:

The N.S.A.’s investigation is examining what information Mr. Snowden had access to and may have also taken from the agency.

“There’s no hesitation” about charging Mr. Snowden, one of the American officials said, explaining that law enforcement officials had not been deterred by the debate inside and outside the administration about its leak investigations. The brazenness of the disclosures about some of the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs and Mr. Snowden’s admission in the newspaper The Guardian on Sunday left little doubt among law enforcement officials, the official said.


Officials at the White House, the Justice Department and intelligence agencies declined to comment on Monday on the investigation and on Mr. Snowden.

House members are receiving a closed briefing from federal law enforcement officials on the Snowden-generated leaks and what they have allegedly compromised today; the Senate is holding a similar event Thursday.

While the wind’s blowing pretty hard against Snowden in Washington, he continues to receive widespread tribute as a hero–which is, as you might know, a bit different from being a traitor–among civil libertarians at both ends of the political spectrum. Ron Paul publicly thanked both Snowden and his top journalistic conduit, Glenn Greenwald, for “exposing the truth about what our government is doing in secret.”

This is the polarized terrain on which the president will eventually have to take some sort of stand, recognizing that his past direct and indirect statements defending the kind of activities Snowden exposed, and harshly criticizing leakers, limit his freedom of action, even if he’s inclined to separate himself from the treason-shouters. Maybe he’s waiting for an intervening news event to take Snowden out of the headlines. Given how suddenly this obscure consultant arrived at this global prominance, the wait might not be all that long.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.