James Clapper Admits In Private That He's Really Not Too Concerned About Terrorists Changing Communications After Snowden
from the faux-outrage dept
Clapper has said repeatedly in public that the leaks did great damage, but in private he has taken a more nuanced stance. A review of early damage assessments in previous espionage cases, he said in one closed-door briefing this fall, found that dire forecasts of harm were seldom borne out.Of course, this is quite different than the influx of reports from reporters quoting "anonymous administration officials" in late June, who kept insisting that the NSA was somehow damaged beyond all belief because terrorists were changing how they communicated. That was clearly overblown from the very beginning for a variety of reasons. First, the serious terrorists already suspected any such communications systems were compromised and weren't using them (see, for example, how bin Laden refused to use the internet at all). Second, the claim that officials knew terrorists had changed how they communicated showed that they were able to observe the new form of communication as well, suggesting no actual (or at least no significant) loss in ability to monitor.
“People must communicate,” he said, according to one participant who described the confidential meeting on the condition of anonymity. “They will make mistakes, and we will exploit them.”
Either way, it's interesting to see confirmed what most of us knew: that Clapper and the other NSA defenders have known pretty much all along that Snowden didn't do any real "harm," but they had no problem fanning the flames of misleading claims to make him out to have caused serious damage.