By Joe Battaglia NewsMax.com
John Bolton made clear his disapproval of Sen. Rand Paul and the Kentucky Republican’s opinions of former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, whom Bolton labeled a modern-day traitor during the Republican Jewish Coalition leadership meeting on Saturday.
In his speech before the influential gathering of GOP voters and donors in Las Vegas, Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, called Snowden a “21st century equivalent of Benedict Arnold,” and added that “anyone who thinks Edward Snowden is a hero in unfit to serve.”
Bolton’s comment was a shot at Paul, whose opinions of Snowden’s actions differed from many Republicans. While many in the GOP were quick to call Snowden’s leak of classified documents an act of treason, Paul referred to it as a form of “civil disobedience.”
Since then, and with the spotlight narrowing on his every word ahead of a potential 2016 presidential bid, Paul has been more willing to recognize the Snowden leaks as a criminal act. He’s also called for the prosecution of members of the Obama administration, including James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence.
Bolton’s criticism of Paul is somewhat off target in that it was actually Paul’s father, former Rep. Ron Paul, who called Snowden a “hero,” according to Breitbart.com.
Armed with an $800,000 Super PAC, Bolton is seen as an influential voice in the GOP as the party looks for its face for the 2016 race for the White House. During his speech, he moved to distinguish members of the tea party from supporters of Rand Paul, saying they are not isolationists but simply in support of a leader strong on foreign policy.
Bolton is an outspoken critic of Paul’s when it comes to international affairs. He told The Washington Times of Rand Paul, “A lot of senators come [to Capitol Hill] without any national foreign policy experience.”
In addressing the controversy swirling around the NSA, Bolton had some difficulty defending the organization, saying only that there was no way for the agency to exonerate itself without producing evidence that could jeopardize national security.
Among those in attendance at the Las Vegas event over the weekend was business magnate Sheldon Adelson, who has pledged to spend more on the 2016 presidential election than the $93 million he did in 2012.