Edward Snowden “perpetrated the largest and most damaging public release of classified information in U.S. intelligence history” in 2013 according to the U.S. House of Representatives. He then fled with that intelligence to Russia where he remains to this day. Additionally, legacy media outlets have championed him and worked with him to release the intelligence to the public. And one question no one has yet asked about all that is this: How much has media collusion with Snowden helped Russia in its intelligence operations against the U.S.—including during the 2016 election cycle?
The U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence released an “Executive Summary of Review of the Unauthorized Disclosures of Former National Security Agency Contractor Edward Snowden” on Sep. 15, 2016. In addition to noting that it was “the largest and most damaging” release of stolen intelligence, the executive summary stated that the media narrative about him is untrue.
First, Snowden caused tremendous damage to national security, and the vast majority of the documents he stole have nothing to do with programs impacting individual privacy interests—they instead pertain to military, defense, and intelligence programs of great interest to America’s adversaries.
Nothing has changed since that time. In fact, things have become worse.
Bill Gertz wrote “Counterspy Official: Snowden Leak Damage Increasing” for the Free Beacon on April 19, 2018. It’s a lengthy piece that details how much Snowden’s theft has damaged the U.S. and how much it is still damaging it. The source for the article is Bill Evanina, the director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center.
On Snowden, Evanina said counterintelligence officials are finishing the seventh intelligence community damage assessment regarding the theft of some 1.7 million NSA top-secret documents.
The assessments are highly classified and have been read by only a handful of senior U.S. officials, he said. . . .
“I will say that the amount of Snowden-related intelligence has not slowed down,” Evanina told a gathering at the Aspen Institute.
“This past year we had more international Snowden-related documents and breaches than ever, but probably 98 percent of them were in Der Spiegel or the Guardian,” he said. “Very few of these issues have been picked up by U.S. media. But our assessment is they are more damaging now.”
So the damage that Snowden caused continues to this day. And the media keep helping him with that damage.
The disclosures have affected intelligence collection capabilities and were spread by what Evanina said is a “consortium of people.” The people include reporters and researchers who analyzed and interpreted the contents of the documents and revealed new, often-arcane details about electronic spying.
Foreign adversaries have then accessed the documents and the analysis of them posted online to defeat NSA tools and techniques for spying. “The more our adversaries are informed by that, the more difficult it is to collect,” Evanina said.
On top of all this, the people journalists have enlisted to help them spread the stolen intelligence are people with the technical knowhow to make the damage even worse.
Evanina said journalists such as Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald, initial recipients of Snowden documents, put together a network of scientists who are studying stolen NSA malware. The researchers have discovered how it works and how to defeat it.
The seventh damage assessment was described by Evanina as “really technical” about what material has been released.
The documents stolen by Snowden are now in the hands of journalists who are releasing it piecemeal after technical studies are conducted and the journalists determine who sees the material.
“Now you have world class scientists looking at some of these apps and capabilities from our collection capabilities that are being re-engineered by our adversaries,” he said.
Remember, this all began in 2013. That would have given our foreign adversaries more than enough time to analyze the stolen information and develop countermeasures to it, or even to develop ways to use it against America.
Also remember, the intelligence was stolen from the NSA—the National Security Agency—which “leads the U.S. Government in cryptology that encompasses both Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) and Information Assurance (IA) products and services, and enables Computer Network Operations (CNO) in order to gain a decision advantage for the Nation and our allies under all circumstances.”
And, again, Snowden fled to Russia and remains there (he passed through China too).
Now, think about the 2016 presidential election cycle and all the hysteria and accusations about Russian interference in it. What are the allegations about Russia? That it engaged in social media and other influence operations to interfere in the election. So why hasn’t anyone yet asked: Did Russia use any of the intelligence that Snowden stole from the U.S. to help in these computer network influence operations and if so, did the media analyzing and publishing the stolen intelligence assist Russia in using it to conduct said computer network influence operations?
This question can be expanded further: How much have the media, by publishing and analyzing the stolen intelligence, assisted Russia, China, and other adversaries in reverse engineering and developing countermeasures against said stolen intelligence to damage the U.S. in other areas?
So as the media hysteria and conspiracy theories against Donald Trump continue, ask yourself why no one has asked: How much has media collusion with Snowden helped Russia in its intelligence operations against the U.S.—including during the 2016 election cycle? And then ask the media, public officials, and even your acquaintances the same thing.