On MSNBC this morning, former Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, praised Edward Snowden for exposing the secretive National Security Agency surveillance programs.

Paul admitted that Snowden probably acted illegally but should not be treated as a traitor. Instead, Paul suggested, Americans should question their lawmakers who created these programs.

“Why don’t we talk about those individuals breaking the law and which one has the higher order?” Paul asked. “The constitution and the written law? Or the authority of the executive branch that controls the enforcements of laws.”

Paul explained that protecting Americans from unwarranted surveillance and government snooping was a founding principal of the Constitution.

“It makes no sense whatsoever and it’s such a blatant violation of the clear language of the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment,” he said. “And the founders knew what this was about, the British did it to them and they wanted to try to prevent this.”

Paul said that both Republicans and Democrats were guilty of allowing the expansion of government. The solution, he explained, was limited government.

“When you have big government, you have this kind of abuse, you have government taxation, you have abuse. The abuse comes from big government and the natural tendency to individuals who hold this power to abuse it,” Paul explained.

Paul also warned American citizens against accepting “cradle to grave” mentality when thinking about government.

“If we expect the government to be the nanny state, it will be big and and abusive, that to me is the more important issue.”