US intelligence has not forgiven Snowden
While there are calls for the whistleblower Edward Snowden to be pardoned, the House intelligence committee yesterdayunanimously approved a blistering report on him.
The report claims Snowden’s disclosures of top-secret documents and programmes did “tremendous damage” to national security.
The report by staff members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence claimed that the great unwashed did not know the truth about Snowden because their version of events was rife with falsehoods, exaggerations, and crucial omission.
Snowden said he would return to the US if he thought he could get a fair trial. But he said federal espionage laws do not recognize a defence of acting in the public interest or as a whistleblower.
The report said that the vast majority of the 1.5 million documents he stole “have nothing to do with programmes impacting individual privacy interests. They instead pertain to military, defense, and intelligence programs of great interest to America’s adversaries.”
His disclosures led Congress to eliminate a programme that allowed the NSA to store the numbers dialled by US telephone customers.
The report said Snowden did not, as he claimed, try to express his concerns about potentially illegal intelligence gathering in a way that would qualify him as a whistleblower.
“The Committee found no evidence that Snowden took any official effort to express concerns about US intelligence activities — legal, moral, or otherwise — to any oversight officials within the U.S. government, despite numerous avenues for him to do so.”
Two weeks before he began to download classified documents at an NSA installation in Hawaii, the report said, he was reprimanded after “engaging in a workplace spat” with managers. And he was repeatedly counselled regarding his behaviour at work, it said.
While he has claimed that statements made by US intelligence official James Clapper at a March 2013 congressional hearing amounted to a “breaking point” for him, the report said Snowden began to download classified documents eight months earlier.
Snowden’s ACLU-provided attorney, Ben Wizner, disputed the report.
“This is a dishonest report that attempts to discredit a genuine American hero, after years of ‘investigation,’ the committee still can’t point to any remotely credible evidence that Snowden’s disclosures caused harm.”
He added, “The truth is that Edward Snowden and the journalists with whom he worked did the job that the House Intelligence Committee was supposed to do: bring meaningful oversight to the US intelligence community. He did so responsibly and carefully, and their efforts have led to historic reforms.”