James Clapper: Yes, Snowden Emailed NSA Lawyer, But Not About His Concerns

from the so-there's-that... dept

Earlier today, we noted that NBC had confirmed that Snowden had raised some of his concerns to people within the intelligence community. In response, James Clapper’s office (the Office of the Director of National Intelligence) has nowreleased what they claim is the only email Snowden sent to the NSA’s legal team. The email was sent just about a month before Snowden went to Hong Kong, and, as ODNI notes, does not address the issues related to Snowden’s whistleblowing concerns:

Furthermore, the ODNI notes:

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.

Of course, it’s worth noting that for all the talk of “proper channels” it’s actually not so easy. In fact, the person that he would have gone to has already noted he would have told Snowden to shut up, and was completely insulting about Snowden. So it’s not as if there really were legitimate channels. And Snowden already knew that going through the full whistleblowing process would get him labeled as a troublemaker.

That said, it does sound as though Snowden may have slightly exaggerated his claims concerning his conversation with the NSA’s lawyers.

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Comments on “James Clapper: Yes, Snowden Emailed NSA Lawyer, But Not About His Concerns”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

That said, it does sound as though Snowden may have slightly exaggerated his claims concerning his conversation with the NSA’s lawyers.

Only if you take them at their word that that email was the only one he sent, and/or he didn’t try and bring his concerns to light via other channels, like personal discussions, and given the credibility and honesty shown so far by the NSA and it’s defenders, yeah, I think I’ll still be giving Snowden the benefit of the doubt here, ‘sole email sent’ or not.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Realize, that email was sent AFTER Clapper lied to Congress and Snowden saw it. Snowden has specifically stated that Clapper’s lie was a major watershed moment for him. At the time he wrote that email he already knew he was going to leak the information and already knew the answer to the question he asked. He was looking to put a document in the record with an official response from the ODNI on whether Executive Orders could legally override statutes. Notice here that specifically listed in this document is the US Constitution. Here he has gotten the ODNI to officially admit that an Executive Order cannot be used to override a statute of law in an official document. The claim that an Executive Order can be used to make authorize an action that is in violation of the 4th amendment to make these programs legal is directly contradiction to the statements made by their office in this email. That is what is going on here.

PRMan (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Exactly. This e-mail says EVERYTHING. It’s an admission by the NSA that their program is illegal, they knew it was illegal, and they went ahead with it anyway.

Snowden’s e-mail is a sneaky way of asking if EOs can override the Constitution and they replied that they cannot, even though in practice they do it all the time.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

And Clapper’s a dumbass that voluntarily released this claiming that he never expressed concerns. He’s being played. Regardless of whether or not there are other emails from Snowden or not. He just clued everyone where to look for more evidence and tricked them into revealing it themselves to the public on top of the fact that he managed to get them to trick them into putting it in the writing in the first place. I’d say that qualifies as pretty good evidence of his spy skills.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Yeah, that’ll likely happen sometime the next 23rd of never, given how happy the MSM is to dance to the government’s tune.

After all, can’t make the boss angry by doing something like that, they might revoke all those juicy ‘exclusives’, better to just repeat whatever the government tells them to and keep an empty smile on their faces and they do so. /s

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“given the credibility and honesty shown so far by the NSA and it’s defenders, yeah, I think I’ll still be giving Snowden the benefit of the doubt here, ‘sole email sent’ or not.”

So far, every time Snowden has spoken he’s told the truth.

So far, every time the NSA has spoken it’s lied.

So I think it’s probably best to presume that both of those things are still true in this instance.

David says:

Re: Re: Re:

Who do you want to believe? The ones still holding any power over you and telling you there isn’t any abuse that you wouldn’t want to be there, or the guy who dropped the beans and fled?

There is no question: one wants to believe, desperately, the guys who are still holding the strings and guns.

And the one guilty for ripping off the blends from the players and ruining the enjoyment of the morality play has cowardly fled to Moscow and won’t crawl back out of his hole after we blocked all the exits.

Yeah, one wants to believe those wearing the “good guys” costumes, but their scaly hides looking out of the holes bad Ed ripped make that uncomfortably hard.

Let’s not focus on that.

Anonymous Coward says:

Taking bets...

That one of the forthcoming leaks are the various emails that Snowden has exchanged with all the officials he has communicated with.

If I was about to blow some shit up with leaks like his, I’d want as much paper trail as I could proving that I attempted to do the right thing. I bet the correspondence is out there and it just hasn’t been revealed to the public yet.

If yes, the government is gonna have egg on their face again…

Michael (profile) says:

It may be difficult to find

If they find more, it may not be the NSA’s fault.

You have to be realistic. The NSA email servers must have hundreds of thousands of emails going through them each day. Who could possibly have a system that would be able to capture, archive, catalog, and ultimately allow searching on such a vast amount of electronic communication?

You can’t expect them to be able to just search for his emails and find them all.

senshikaze (profile) says:

Re: It may be difficult to find

Millions of emails a day wouldn’t cause an off the shelf mail server and mail archiver combo to even break a sweat to search for all the emails from/to/cc any number of recipients and senders. That is super easy these days, even for systems with gigantic email loads(which I assume the NSA has on their internal email system. Also, remember, their internal email will be completely separated from the “big data”-esque dragnet system(s))

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: It may be difficult to find

Correct. And the original email appears to have been sent through a web-form submission which would mean that the delivery route could be controlled such that it didn’t pass through external channels where it would be scooped up by the bulk email collection programs.

Trevor says:

Teeing it up

Any chance Snowden KNEW the NSA would deny or downplay his previous warnings he made through the “proper channels?”

Any chance Snowden was smart enough to make sure the documents he took and gave to Greenwald included the emails he sent before he left?

Any chance those emails are going to be leaked in the near future to show that the NSA is covering it up again?

Anonymous Coward says:

James Clapper - the epitome of integrity

So this information came from James Clapper’s office – the same office that contains the person who gave the “least untruthful answer” to Congressional inquiries (something that if most of us did, would find ourselves enjoying a government-funded stay at Leavenworth for perjury).

Who’s to say that this information just isn’t some more “untruthful answers?”

Sorry Clapperhead – your integrity went out the window and I can only assume that anything further out of your office MUST, to a degree, contain some form of bullshit.

Anonymous Coward says:

That’s the *ONLY* email they found? And I’m supposed to take this at face value?

Nope. Not buying it, but judging by how good the NSAs ‘checks and balance’ procedures are in place, it wouldn’t surprise me if this is all they could find.

My money is that emails are in the spam folders of the people he sent them to.

AC says:

He said, she said

It’s worth acknowledging that we don’t now, nor ever will, know every single shred of evidence related to this whole episode. That said, there are essentially two sides here, Snowden vs the US Government, and one has demonstrated quite a bit more credibility than the other.
We’ll see what he has to say about this. It’s far too soon to start repeating the company line and determine that he exaggerated.

David says:

Re: He said, she said

Oh, it’s like football. You cheer for the home team and pick up hope again every time right after they have gotten another beating.

Though it’s more like cheering against the concession stands in their valiant fight against a lone food inspector.

“Our vermin is properly husbanded and groomed. The photographs of rats in the soup are taken out of context and we have policies in place that don’t allow roaches access to the keys of our cupboards without being convinced of a good reason. Yes, we are looking forward to installing back walls to our cupboards eventually but this is pending until we get more funding, and it has never shown to be a problem in practice. We are all professionals.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Not implying this, but it has made me think, for the kind untraceble abuses this might inflict on non tech savvy users, but, do they have the “power” to delete? Now can you think of situations given the behaviour of the “western powers” over the last decade, where that might seriously cause some infringements, add the ability to get real time metadata/content data(yes, realtime thats where this is heading if not already or a portion),

Corrupt an attachment, what will the majority of people think, computer error “its not working”

Change a phrase or sentence or two, maybe in a large body of text, subtlely so that the author may not know unless they made a copy, thats offcourse its securely stored offline, and that the saintly agents arent using all that info about you to calculate whether you’ve ever mentioned, talked or bought anything that might require a “tech saviness” mindset………a fucking drop in the ocean of possibilities with these very real ingredients, and no say in the matter………representation my ass

Anonymous Coward says:

So the US Constitution takes precedence over everything. Snowden swore an oath to uphold the constitution. Snowden found the NSA to be violating the constitution. The violations were a result of Executive Orders, meaning they went all the way up the ladder to the top. Snowden reveals the violations. Isn’t this what we expect out of the men and women who serve our country? Why is Snowden on the run and Clapper is being paid to give speeches? Is the government no longer of the people?

Anonymous Coward says:

Why does it matter how many legitimate channels there are for blowing the whistle when all the dirty laundry is out on the table NOW and nothing has been done via those channels anyways? Not one person in Snowden’s chain of command has tried to make any changes after the information became public, so why would doing so in private have made any difference?
For all the talk about proper channels and things Snowden could have done to change the system, why has nothing been done to date with the information everyone has now?

David says:

Re: Re:

For all the talk about proper channels and things Snowden could have done to change the system, why has nothing been done to date with the information everyone has now?

You are not being fair. Several bills have been drafted and a whole lot of extortion and bribery had to be invested to have them watered down to the degree of supporting the opposite and/or have them defeated.

In unrelated news, the NSA needs more money for its patriotic work.

Anonymous Coward says:

ODNI, NSA, and through this document the proof beyond measure of POTUS, are all involved in a cover up. None have any creditability when it comes to showing proof.

So far all creditability rests with Snowden.

That’s really sad when you consider one individual has more creditability than the entire government that is against him.

Given how much these branches like to cherry pick their examples, I have to wonder just how many more there are of Snowden emails, not being revealed because they are far more damaging. Snowden hinted that he didn’t try just one time.

The USG has long ago lost it’s creditability on this. So far I see nothing that lends any possibility of truthfulness to the government’s side.

fortiori says:

It's a trap!

Seriously guys, Snowden must have copies of the emails he’s claiming he sent along with the responses. Didn’t you see that mischievous smile on his face in the NBC interview when he spoke of them?

He gave the NSA just enough rope to hang themselves and they just did exactly that with this press release and their claim that that’s all there is. The next move is to simply publish the correspondence. Game. Set. Match.

Anonymous Coward says:

Wrong Question, Mr Clapper!

March 12, 2013, Sen. Ron Wyden brought to your attention certain concerns about the conduct of the NSA. The answer you provided in public is well documented. But how did you investigate the claims, and what actions did you take to ensure the NSA was operating within the word and the spirit of law and constitution?
Not enough, we have since learned. And if the man in charge of the NSA decides to ignore even requests brought to him in public by the US Senate, how much credit do you think we should give to his claims that concerns of a low-level consultant were followed up adequately?

David says:

Re: Wrong Question, Mr Clapper!

But how did you investigate the claims, and what actions did you take to ensure the NSA was operating within the word and the spirit of law and constitution?
Not enough, we have since learned.

In unrelated news, the horses on our premises have not done enough to clear the paddocks of horsecrap. They are pointing to procedural difficulties and ask for more hay in order to find a resolution to the problem.

They reject any accusation of dragging their hooves and invite all the neigh-sayers to delve into matters themselves and form their balanced opinion.

Anonymous Coward says:

The American people need to realize that Clapper, The NSA, and in fact, the entire “intelligence” and DOJ organizations, have gone rogue and need to be shut down. None of them, it seems, have any regard for or belief in the US Constitution (that they have sworn to “Protect and Defend”), or established law, other than as something to replace the Sears catalog in the outhouse.

They apparently have even less regard for the citizens that put them in office – nothing but pure contempt there. Eventually it’s going to backfire on the Government. Should be interesting.

Unfortunately, with all of the big money involved in sustaining it (and thus preserving their cash cows), it’s unlikely to end anytime soon. Trying to stop it is like trying to control the Gulf Stream by throwing a rock into it. Many ripples for a few seconds, then no indication it ever happened.

Anonymous Coward says:

“That said, it does sound as though Snowden may have slightly exaggerated his claims concerning his conversation with the NSA’s lawyers.”

All this based on Clapper’s claims? “We suppress information as we want but trust us, this is all we got” Clapper? This is my LOL of the day. Thanks for the laugh. And the blind confidence in the NSA.

Charles Jones (profile) says:

Lawyers not providing America with adequate results

It is not my concern what Snowden reveals to NSA Lawyers but it does overwhelm me that NSA Lawyers are not providing adequate information regarding what has been taken away if anything at all. Snowden conceived a ingenious plan to capture data and save it as he chose that does not mean he stole anything, its still at NSA and will be there even if there were a trial over that one incident. Many other people have the same capability and they have not came forward to news media and perhaps they do not have to if NSA don’t know them thats the problem – Americans are being lied to even when a NSA Lawyer has the exact same capabilities as Snowden to store what they perceive as being needed by them to represent NSA fully and no law enforcement is pondering over what NSA Lawyers have stored are they. If it were OBAMA the situation would be quite different, the press would be all over him if he failed to reval the truth as we are always seeing in the news because the news media is suppose to report the truth. Sometimes the truth never surfaces because something else more drastic happens, like in Benghazi we are not given the truth about OBAMA having met with Ambassador Stevens before any Benghazi incident at the US Embassy took place resulting in his death have we. Certain elements which were suppose to protect Stevens were X-Al-Qaeda members who were working for Gadhafi and had been turned to become security guards, they knew the truth that happened long before Stevens died and they perhaps allowed the entry of Al-Qaeda members not turned to take Stevens life. Here is actual greed amongst the membership, one group knows Stevens must shut-up and the other will kill him to shut him up while another groups led by a President does not want the truth to be revealed and does nothing to save Stevens from death. THE MONEY FACTOR, that is a wicked consequence when OBAMA has no money to fund another weapon deal with the Al-Qaeda trys to force Stevens to obtain the money Gadhafi lost in missile purchases which didn’t make it back to Syria, Stevens on the otherhand don’t know where the money is and OBAMA believes he does and wants to keep the money safe from being used again or spending it on a campaign which OBAMA had returned to the states to accomplish. We know fragments of the truth which point to the facts and one fact is that the Al-Qaeda did not also know where the money was. Instead of seeking the whereabouts of the money in Syriua, OBAMA & his Administrators felt the money to still be in Libya or headed to Iran and stored in a safehouse so to obtain access before moving it. The truth revealed to me is that a General in Syria held the cash money in a bank in Syria which President Assad had ordered to be destroyed amongst other banks because he also wanted the money and felt it to be stored in a bank in Syria but did not suspect a General whom he held trust in to have turned against him. All the General wanted is to be allowed to come to the USA and for that he would turn over the money however OBAMA & Administrators did not relate the money to the same money the Al-Qaeda wanted and feltr that money was being stolen from Syrians whom really should receive the money back, as a result the US under OBAMA’s hand decided to FUND THE Al-Qaeda to go after Assad and the money against the General whom was being lied to at this point by the US. OBAMA never got the money, Stevens died, Assad destroyed many banks & obtained no money, Many Syrians were killed suspected of holding the cash money, the Al-Qaeda killed many of the Generals men in execution style thought to have been killed by Assad forces and the issue was dropped until the investigation of Benghazi started to unravel the MONEY TRAIL. Now Americans are headed towards the truth but yet to know the full details of OBAMA having ordered NO MONEY FOR FUNDING THE PROTECTION OF AMBASSADOR STEVENS, whereby Marines were ready to save four Americans instantly and had no money issues in doing so & OBAMA NEVER GAVE THE ORDER TO SAVE THEM NOR DID HILLARY CLINTON also looking for the money to deal with the Al-Qaeda in Libya. In essence OBAMA wanted STEVENS to lie about having the money to get the weapons then too the Al-Qaeda in Libya wanted to FUND the Al-Qaeda in Syria yet the ISS was preventing them from doing anything cause the ISS once Al-Qaeda themselves joined to serve President Assad and hunted any Al-Qaeda that rejected joining them and death was the result. Spies from ISS infiltrated Libyan Al-Qaeda and infiltrated the ranks of those whom were to protect Ambassador Stevens and Steven and three other Americans died as a result of the failure of OBAMA to spell out the truth to all that needed to know to save four Americans, blessed with serving the Al-Qaeda instead. Mr. Edward Snowden should have known all this informaton even the name and location of the General but never spoke about Benghazi at all so who in NSA knew about this aspect since CIA Operatives surely knew the truth OBAMA failed to disclose?

Anonymous Coward says:

That said, it does sound as though Snowden may have slightly exaggerated his claims concerning his conversation with the NSA’s lawyers.

or…(drum roll)… the NSA lied again.
Wuddya think the chances of that might be?

Let’s see, Snowden has been caught in lies…. ummm, never.

NSA has been caught in lies….. every time it opens its collective mouth.

I assume that this shot in the dark at Snowden’s integrity will, within a week or two, be shown to be 100% standard government issue NSA Bullshit… once again.

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