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Hillary Clinton weighs in on Edward Snowden: Is that appropriate?

Generally, former secretaries of State stay quiet on matters that affect their successors – such as the Edward Snowden leaks. But Hillary Clinton, eyeing a presidential run, has different rules.

By Correspondent / June 25, 2013

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton addresses the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Meeting in Chicago earlier this month. The former first lady offered her most extensive description of her post-Obama administration agenda since leaving her role as the nation's top diplomat.

Scott Eisen/AP

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Washington

In Washington, there are informal rules governing whether former public officials should weigh in on urgent policy matters occupying the dockets of their successors.

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Rule No. 1: Don’t, unless called upon.

But for former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, now a private citizen, the rules don’t necessarily apply. After all, she is pondering a 2016 presidential bid, and her every move and utterance are assessed in that light. And, well, she’s a Clinton, and therefore as powerful as anyone in politics today. She and her husband, the former president, usually dictate the hows, whens, and whats of their public statements.

And so with that in mind, or so it seems, she registered her strong feelings Monday night on the biggest foreign policy matter – crisis even – facing President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry: Edward Snowden’s international quest for asylum in the wake of his disclosure of classified government surveillance tactics.

Ms. Clinton criticized China for allowing Snowden to exit Hong Kong last weekend even after the US charged him with espionage and theft.

"That kind of action is not only detrimental to the US-China relationship but it sets a bad precedent that could unravel the intricate international agreements about how countries respect the laws – and particularly the extradition treaties," the former secretary of State told an audience in Los Angeles.

Clinton’s remarks came during a 90-minute talk sponsored by the American Jewish University, according to the Associated Press. During the appearance she also said Mr. Snowden, the former Booz Allen Hamilton contractor, engaged in "outrageous behavior" in releasing details of the National Security Agency’s data collection program PRISM, which tracks citizens’ e-mails and phone calls in an effort to root out possible terrorist activity.

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