Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss tells NBC's Meet The Press on Sunday that information leaked to the media by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden has caused terrorists to change their tactics to thwart detection.
Asked if Snowden, believed to be in hiding in Hong Kong, qualified as a "traitor" who should face U.S. justice, Chambliss, R-Ga., replied, "If he's not a traitor, then he's pretty darn close to it.
"And as far as getting him back here, he needs to look an American jury in the eye and explain why he has disclosed sources and methods that are going to put American lives in danger," said Chambliss, the ranking member on the Select Committee on Intelligence.
Snowden worked as a contractor for the National Security Agency in Hawaii before giving The Guardian newspaper a series of exclusives on the agency's surveillance programs.
Chambliss, who has been an outspoken in his support of the NSA's secret collection of phone record metadata and Internet surveillance efforts since they were made public earlier this month, says "there's no question" that Snowden's revelations damaged American security.
"We know now that because of his disclosure that the terrorists, the bad guys around the world, are taking some different tactics, and they know a little bit more about how we're gathering information on them," Chambliss told NBC.
The remarks come after top U.S. intelligence officials told The Associated Press late Saturday that information gathered from the controversial data-collection programs was used to thwart terrorist plots in the U.S. and 20 other countries.
The AP reported that the unnamed officials did not elaborate on the plots, but said that in 2012 "fewer than 300 phone numbers were checked against the database of millions of U.S. phone records gathered daily by the NSA in one of the programs."