Intelligence Officials Can't Keep Story Straight: Snowden Both Did And Did Not Get Key NSA Secrets

from the which-is-it? dept

We’ve already talked about how NSA surveillance supporters are trying to claim both that Ed Snowden’s links were either “nothing new” or “false” and that they “harm America.” We had trouble understanding how both could be true — but supporters were making both statements. Now intelligence officials are doing their own sort of contradictory statements, as pointed out by Glenn Greenwald. First up, we’ve got intelligence officials claiming that Snowden didn’t get the really deep dark secrets of the NSA:

U.S. intelligence now believes Edward Snowden did not gain access to the “crown jewels” of National Security Agency programs that secretly intercept and monitor conversations around the world, CNN has learned.

Note that comes from CNN reporter Barbara Starr who is well known for basically spreading the NSA official line so much that she’s been called “the Pentagon spokesperson who works for CNN.” However, just a day later, another site published a quote from General Bob Kehler, who “oversees cyber warfare” and is “sort of” NSA chief Keith Alexander’s boss, claiming something quite different:

He referred to the type of information Snowden released as ”the deepest of the deep secrets.”

So… he didn’t get access to the “crown jewels” but has already released “the deepest of the deep secrets”? How does that work?

The reality is that these guys are basically just posturing for different audiences. They want to downplay the seriousness of the leaks, while still attacking Snowden and making it out like this action is so dangerous. The problem is that both things can’t be true. But, of course, when has the NSA and the intelligence community ever cared about truth? You’d just think they’d be a bit more careful about so obviously contradicting themselves.

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Comments on “Intelligence Officials Can't Keep Story Straight: Snowden Both Did And Did Not Get Key NSA Secrets”

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Ninja (profile) says:

Quantum physics at work. Is the cat in or out of the bag? Is it alive or dead? Or Both? Schr?dinger would be proud!

Jokes apart they’ll say whatever fits at the occasion. Obscurity sometimes may be the best card you can play when shit has hit the fan. Maybe shift focus from what happened to “was it deep secrets or not”? Or maybe shift it to Snowden personality or something? Seems to work with alienated people though.

Wally (profile) says:

Playing off of Ninja's first comment..

Honestly there is more than one way to skin Schr?dinger’s cat here.

Snowden did likely indeed take classified material with him….his knowledge base…and some private personal data of people the NSA has spied on…but some of the documents he carries are quite publicly accessible. Policies like what to do in an emergency should never be classified.

I think that this sudden turn around is a combination of not admitting you’re wrong, and at the same time trying to save face.

As long as Snowden preserves (meaning he doesn’t crack under torture) the classified information that needs to be classified, he should be ok.

The NSA and congress have no reason to fear him yet they do. I’m reminded of an old Western proverb:

“Sinners flee when there is no sin committed to flee from.”

This means that only a person hiding something would run or backpedal when they’ve been caught. Snowden is fleeing…but not for the same reason the NSA is trying to backpedal on what it has been saying.

uRspqF7L (profile) says:


interesting in NSA’s use of a term similar to CIA “family jewels,” which were also largely about wiretapping & surveillance, & which were supposedly “released” in 1977. Then released again in 2007, & quite differently (& to almost no notice from media).

good overview & complete (as of now) documents at:

out_of_the_blue says:

YEAH, they need to HYPE yet can't admit huge breach.

Entirely consistent with limited hangout psyop. When needed in one venue to be bad, it’s said to verge on catastrophe; when elsewhere answer “how could you be so careless?”, why, it’s minor.

I like how you let me prove I’ve been right from the start of this “leak”, so, Mike, keep running these pieces in which YOU are puzzled by obvious inconsistency that a limited hangout psyop explains perfectly.

Cory of PC (profile) says:

So if Snowden’s leak “harmed America,” then why hasn’t anyone jumped on the opportunity to attack? If they are making this like Snowden revealed all of these secrets and is threatening to destroy national security, then someone should’ve jumped on that and do something about it.

If this is “nothing new” then why are they making a big deal outta this!? This seems like attention getting if they’re trying to make one guy look like the biggest threat to the US, or just something to top the previous scandal.

Eponymous Coward says:

I don’t know enough about all the different logical fallacies that exist (I could do an easy Google search, but I’m being lazy), though it seems to me that if there isn’t yet one named for these types of contradictory claims there should be. Right now I’m thinking ‘Contradicotomy’, or ‘Contradiametric’ claims, is a fitting term(s) to describe this argument approach (but that’s biased by my enjoyment of a good portmenteau). Any other good ideas?

Lurker Keith says:


How can the NSA spying on Americans be the one of the deepest secrets of the Government when the phrase “Big Brother” is known around the world to mean just that (& I’ve been aware of the phrase pretty much my entire life)?

Also, we also have shows like Person of Interest & games like Watch_Dogs* that wouldn’t exist if the concept of the US government spying on their own citizens wasn’t already a main stream concept, if still considered a myth or conspiracy before the recent leaks.

All Snowden did was admit, yes, the NSA is indeed doing what you all have suspected for decades. Here’s the proof.

& I JUST saw a local NBC broadcast mention the House voted to allow the spying to continue, & that it is now up to the Senate to attempt to defund the spy programs (they actually used the word “spy” a few times).

*In an interview at E3 for Watch_Dogs (skip to 13:57 for the NSA mention), one of the Ubisoft guys was asked if the NSA stuff was a marketing ploy, & he talks about how the terminology being used w/ the NSA is the same as the game, & how reality has surpassed the game.

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