US Intelligence Effectively Admits That, Despite Earlier Statements, They Don't Think Snowden Gave Docs To Russians

from the apparently-they-figured-out-what-he-had dept

The Washington Post has an interesting article about James Clapper calling intelligence officials around the globe to effectively pre-warn them that cooperative activities with US intelligence agencies are likely to be revealed in the press before long, thanks to Ed Snowden. It's a worthwhile read, but two things struck me about it:
  1. It sounds like the NSA might have finally figured out what Snowden took, only five or so months later.
  2. They seem to know that (contrary to what they've claimed publicly) Russia does not have access to the trove of Snowden docs. That's not stated explicitly, but the following snippet makes it pretty clear:
    In one case, for instance, the files contain information about a program run from a NATO country against Russia that provides valuable intelligence for the U.S. Air Force and Navy, said one U.S. official, who requested anonymity to discuss an ongoing criminal investigation. Snowden faces theft and espionage charges.

    “If the Russians knew about it, it wouldn’t be hard for them to take appropriate measures to put a stop to it,” the official said.
    That statement certainly indicates that the Russians haven't taken those appropriate measures... meaning that they don't yet know about it. Of course, Snowden himself recently insisted that he got rid of the docs before going to Russia, but some chose not to believe him. The statements above suggest not only that Snowden was being truthful, but also that administration and Congressional officials who insist that Snowden gave the documents to the Russian are ignorant or lying.
It's funny how a little sunlight and transparency often has a contagious way of revealing even more over time...


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Skeptical Cynic (profile), Oct 25th, 2013 @ 2:24pm

    The statements above suggest not only that Snowden was being truthful, but also that administration and Congressional officials who insist that Snowden gave the documents to the Russian are ignorant or lying.

    Mike, mike, my over informed long time friend, what it suggests is that they need to CYA not that they really are lying or are ignorant. Those people did not get there by luck, they know what they are doing. So enough giving them the benefit of the doubt and call a f**ka*s a f**a*s they are and will always be about their power and their privilege. They knew what they were doing and are doing what they can to not lose what they have.

    Mike sometimes you are just to diplomatic. They suck and you know it.

     

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  2.  
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    Uriel-238 (profile), Oct 25th, 2013 @ 3:02pm

    Nothing!

    It sounds like the NSA might have finally figured out what Snowden took, only five or so months later.

    More accurately, the NSA might have finally figured out what Snowden didn't take.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 25th, 2013 @ 3:02pm

    they knew full well that he hadn't handed over any documents, just they know he hasn't committed treason, espionage or any other crime he is charged with, other than ensuring that the world knew what liars those in charge of the USA and the 'security forces' are and what lengths they have gone to, both legal and illegal, to achieve what they wanted. remember too that what has been going on hasn't stopped a single terrorist attack and has criminalized countless people for doing everyday things by reading their mail and listening to their phone calls, then interpreting them how was wanted to make cases against them!

     

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  4.  
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    Ben (profile), Oct 25th, 2013 @ 3:40pm

    What it shows...

    What it shows is that Mr. Snowden is better at this Security thing than then NSA.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 25th, 2013 @ 4:11pm

    I wonder if the NSA figured out what Snowden leaked, when they seized David Miranda's electronics at the UK International Airport?

    I would say that's the most likely explanation.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 25th, 2013 @ 4:22pm

    gov't caught lying, sorry but this is a nonstory:(

     

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  7.  
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    Uriel-238 (profile), Oct 25th, 2013 @ 5:38pm

    That's the tragedy

    That we are so used to the government lying to us that we now expect it, that's a problem. That we would ignore it for it's banality is what harbingers the doom of the nation.

     

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  8.  
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    Sandy, Oct 25th, 2013 @ 6:20pm

    Re: What it shows...

    Snowden is in fact; "better @ this security thing because he is "truthful"...
    When truth is involved their is a certainty and "no inconsistencies"
    As far as the NSA maybe they can now see how it feels to not be sure and have to guess about their security and privacy as millions of Americans privacy and personal information was breeched!

     

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  9.  
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    Brian Dell, Oct 25th, 2013 @ 9:04pm

    the hero

    "he got rid of the docs before going to Russia, but some chose not to believe him."

    Like Glenn Greenwald, who claimed in July, LONG AFTER Snowden allegedly left for Russia empty handed, that Snowden had huge numbers of documents.

    Another unbelievable claim from Snowden is that "I carefully evaluated every single document I disclosed to ensure that each was legitimately in the public interest." All 50 thousand? Yeah right. When he ratted out U.S. ops in China to Hong Kong media was that in the "public interest"? Greenwald excused this saying the poor man needed to "ingratiate" himself with his Chinese hosts. If Snowden cracks that quickly what did he tell the Russians who had far more control over him?

    The guy's sense of moral superiority is off the charts. He basically lied and cheated his way into a government job and then turned around and decided he was going to take control over America's foreign policy from elected officials because they were doing evil. A legend in his own mind. And then he got into contact with Russian diplomats in Hong Kong before leaving Hong Kong in order to arrange a new platform for himself to continue to harangue his native country before the international community. From his perch in the shadow of the Kremlin, that bastion of human rights, he continues to hector and lecture. The moralizing then infects people like our TechDirt author who is practically spitting with righteous indignation at all the "liars" maligning our hero.

    Remember that "human rights" panel he presided over in July? Do some investigate reporting and you'd learn that most of the invitees were front organizations for the Kremlin. He'd rather play spin doctor for his hosts than host a REAL press conference which might reveal the FULL truth. This continual hiding from investigative reporters by the guy who claims to be acting in the name of "Transparency."

     

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  10.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Oct 25th, 2013 @ 10:44pm

    Re: the hero

    Uh, you do know that the reason he's in Russia, has been and will likely be there for a while, is because the US stranded him thereby pulling his passport after he'd arrived, and before he left, not because he chose to be, right?

     

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  11.  
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    Brian Dell, Oct 25th, 2013 @ 11:19pm

    Re: Re: the hero

    Uh, you do know that that is bullshit? The truth is that his passport was pulled BEFORE he left Hong Kong. See the Associated Press wire story "State Department revokes NSA leaker Snowden's passport" dated June 23. Now how did he manage to board a plane out of Hong Kong without a passport? Because such things can be ignored if a senior official in a country or airline so orders, that's why. This business about Russia's hands being tied is a propaganda line made up the Kremlin but because everybody seems to be watching RT these days it's become accepted as the truth.

    To quote the Associated Press again with respect to the bullshit claim that Snowden was "stranded" in the "transit zone,":

    "Putin said Tuesday that Snowden has not passed through Russian immigration, so he is not technically in Russia.
    That's more a diplomatic convention than a legal reality, according to James C. Hathaway, director of the Program on Refugee and Asylum Law at the University of Michigan law school. 'Moscow airport is as much a part of Russia as is the Kremlin,' Hathaway said in an email."


    That's why Snowden's plane was met by Russian agents who whisked him away as soon as the plane landed on airport grounds and NOBODY ever actually saw Snowden in the transit zone during the following weeks except for that July 12 meeting behind closed doors that, to quote the New York Times, "the Kremlin helped organize."

    Also, use a little bit of critical thinking here. Why would Snowden be in touch with Russian diplomats in Hong Kong before leaving Hong Kong if he truly wanted to move on to Cuba as soon as possible? There's sterile transit facilities in Moscow's major airports, meaning that he need not have any contact with Russian authorities between changing flights unless he wanted that contact OR the Russians were tipped off that he was there. Talking to them in Hong Kong would obviously just tip them off as they could come into the transit zone they actually have full legal sovereignty over and nab him against his will.

    Oh, but Snowden's Russian lawyer said his client "did not enter into any communication with our diplomats when he was in Hong Kong," you might say. Well the obvious explanation is that Russians have been lying with impunity because there there is no independent source to contradict their claims but in this case Kucherena was caught out because Putin, who wasn't beholden to whatever the script was and could write his own, directly contradicted Kucherena on TV in early September saying "Mr. Snowden first appeared in Hong Kong and met with our diplomatic representatives" without realizing that he exposing Kucherena, who happens to also to PR work for the FSB, as a liar.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 26th, 2013 @ 2:47am

    Re: Re: Re: the hero

    You're assuming that the US' claim is more valid than Russia's. This...is not a good position to take if you believe in the betterment of society as a whole. America has a long and storied history of ignoring civil rights when it's convenient.

    In addition to this, I would argue that the US has committed numerous acts of war by allowing private entities to railroad legal negotiations through trade agreements, such as TRIPs and TTIP. So to quote scripture:

    "Let he who hath not sinned cast the first stone."

    or, better yet:

    "Judge not, lest ye be judged and found wanting."

     

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  13.  
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    RLM, Oct 26th, 2013 @ 7:13am

    Re: the hero

    Did Snowden or Greenwald actually ever claim he physically had the documents in his person?

    "had" may have simply meant that he had them somewhere accessible , or that was an intentional misdirection so those who the docs had been handed off to wouldn't be swept up prior to getting copies to others. Like they did with the empty planes to various countries from Russia.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 26th, 2013 @ 7:32am

    Of course, it's well within reason that the Russians may play the long game, and not shut down any 'leaks' detailed in the Snowden papers. To do so would be too obvious right now - much better to just turn them into a feed of false info.

     

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  15.  
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    roarshock44, Oct 26th, 2013 @ 7:54am

    canadian surveillance operative to clapper on learning that snowden arranged it such that he could not possibly give the information to the russians: "that snowden, he's cagey, aye?"

    clapper: "no, man.  he's kgb."

     

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  16.  
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    Brian Dell, Oct 26th, 2013 @ 1:21pm

    Re: Re: the hero

    "'had' may have simply meant..."

    You can see the July 14 TV interview with Greenwald on Youtube, the Youtube ID is FoxP70oojfY. Greenwald says Snowden, then in Russia, "is in possession of literally thousands of documents." Now you can spin "possession" to mean something that does not contradict the claim here on TechDirt that Snowden "got rid of the docs before going to Russia" but my question is why can you not open your mind to the possibility that Snowden and/or Greenwald and/or the Russians are spinning you instead of straining to get their stories straight for them?

    That video is where Greenwald reveals Snowden's threat to blow the cover off U.S./U.K. intelligence operations worldwide (e.g. inside North Korea etc) if harm should come to Snowden. Now how does that square with Snowden's claim that "I carefully evaluated every single document I disclosed to ensure that each was legitimately in the public interest." How is handing every repressive regime in the world advanced surveillance techniques going to serve "the public interest"? The fact that Snowden (and Greenwald, if Greenwald is the one who would pull the trigger) would hold the civil liberties of millions hostage like this to secure his personal security makes a mockery of his concern for "the public interest." "Disclosure" here can't mean directly to the the public since Snowden's every disclosure has first been to the Greenwald, Poitras, etc.

    It was the Russian paper Kommersant that first reported Snowden was in contact with the Russians in Hong Kong. Greenwald was challenged on his blog about that and Greenwald claimed in a reply that the Kommersant story was "bullshit." Putin subsequently went on TV to make that statement that revealed that at least of the substance of that Kommersant story Greenwald said was "bullshit" was in fact true. Greenwald usually doesn't get exposed like this because he hides his sources, like Snowden, from any cross-examination by investigative journalists who don't share his agenda.

     

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  17.  
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    Davd, Oct 26th, 2013 @ 2:56pm

    Re: the hero

    The guy's sense of moral superiority is off the charts. He basically lied and cheated his way into a government job and then turned around and decided he was going to take control over America's foreign policy from elected officials because they were doing evil.

    Well, at least he did not break his oath on the constitution like all the guys who lied and cheated their ways into a government job. Like pretty much every NSA employee, as the whole organization is out to abolish the U.S. people's freedom while letting themself get paid by them until the U.S. is broke.

     

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