According to the National Security Agency, Edward Snowden “did not raise allegations or concerns about wrongdoing or abuse” before leaking classified documents to the press.
Snowden has stated that he sent numerous email to the agency’s general counsel inquiring about the programs and whether they were legal during an interview last night with NBC’s Brian Williams. See the entire interview here.
Snowden fled to Russia one year ago after stealing over 1 million top-secret NSA documents from an agency facility in Hawaii where he was stationed. Snowden fled first to Hong Kong and has been in the Moscow area ever since.
Many of the documents Snowden pilfered included precise details of ongoing agency operations and showed how the NSA had co-opted the servers of Apple, Google, and Facebook in order to siphon information on people. The leaks also revealed that the NSA has intercepted the phone calls of many world leaders, leading to diplomatic friction.
Snowden said this during the interview, his first with an American broadcasting company since fleeing, last night.
“The NSA has records — they have copies of emails right now to their Office of General Council to their oversight and compliance folks from me raising concerns about the NSA’s interpretations of its legal authorities.”
The office of the Director of National Intelligence, at the behest of the NSA, released Snowden’s email [below].
A short statement from the DNI that accompanied the release of Snowden’s email said:
“NSA has now explained that they have found one email inquiry by Edward Snowden to the Office of General Counsel asking for an explanation of some material that was in a training course he had just completed. The e-mail did not raise allegations or concerns about wrongdoing or abuse, but posed a legal question that the Office of General Counsel addressed.”
The DNI said that Snowden, if he had real qualms about the programs, should have raised the issue with his managers instead of fleeing the country. Snowden is currently wanted by the U.S. government for espionage.
The second graph of the DNI release reads:
“There was not additional follow-up noted. The e-mail will be released later today. There are numerous avenues that Mr. Snowden could have used to raise other concerns or whistleblower allegations. We have searched for additional indications of outreach from him in those areas and to date have not discovered any engagements related to his claims.”
Snowden has described himself as a man of conscience who was severely disconcerted by the scope of the NSA’s collection programs.
Former NSA director Michael V. Hayden told VentureBeat last week Snowden was an aggressive “hunter” of classified material. Snowden also did brief stints at the Defense Intelligence Agency and the CIA before landing at the NSA.
Hayden said Snowden’s actions “weakened America’s health.”
Former KGB Major General Oleg Kalugin, a legendary Russian spy long suspected of having unsubstantiated relations with American intelligence, told VentureBeat last week that Snowden had made his Russian hosts “very, very happy” with the information he provided them since landing in Moscow.
Kalugin, who called Snowden a traitor, also stated that he was being handled by the Russian security service, or FSB. During Wednesday’s interview, Snowden strenuously denied collaborating or working for the Russians.
In the world of shadows, shifting allegiances, and games, questions still remain.