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NSA Confirms It Has More Snowden Emails; It Just Isn't Going To Release Them

from the stop-asking,-agency-reps-explained dept

Ed Snowden claims he made multiple attempts to bring his concerns about the NSA programs to those occupying "proper channels" positions, only to be ignored or told everything was perfectly legal and to stop worrying about it.

In response, the ODNI (James Clapper's office) released an email from Snowden to the NSA's General Counsel, asking for clarification as to where Executive Orders stood in the legal authority pecking order. This, it was claimed, was Snowden's only attempt to have his concerns addressed and Clapper used this statement/release to portray Snowden as an analyst who simply gathered documents and leaked them, rather than someone who found his whistleblowing routes closed off.

Of course, this statement came from an agency that admitted it couldn't even search its own internal email system. The fact that reps for the agency (Clapper himself for one) had lied about or obscured elements of the NSA's collection programs several times in the recent past made this statement even more questionable.

Journalist Matthew Keys appears to have obtained evidence that the agency has more Snowden emails, including some addressing his concerns, but isn't willing to release them.

In a letter responding to a June 27 FOIA request from The Desk, the NSA’s chief FOIA officer Pamela Phillips wrote that while the agency has retained records related to Snowden’s employment as a contractor, they are being withheld from public examination because, among other things, releasing the records “could interfere with law enforcement proceedings, could cause an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy, could reveal the identities of confidential sources or would reveal law enforcement techniques and procedures.”

Other records are being withheld because those documents were “also found to be currently and properly classified…and remains classified TOP SECRET, SECRET and CONFIDENTIAL.”
Interestingly, although Keys' FOIA request did not specify emails dealing with whistleblowing attempts (it simply asked for all emails from Snowden's email address to other government email addresses), the NSA went ahead and preemptively denied this in its FOIA response.
[P]hillips wrote that “there are no e-mails indicating that Mr. Snowden contacted agency officials to raise concerns about NSA programs.”
That's not strictly true, unless the NSA is deciding to read the previously released Snowden email as just a procedural question, rather than considering the question in the context of the leaks.

But there's obviously more information out there. It just seems the NSA will not be releasing it anytime soon. The NSA could clear up this "did he/didn't he" question with a (redacted) dump of Snowden's email account, but it has chosen to hide behind exemptions instead. As long as it considers nearly everything to be critical to "law enforcement proceedings," it is just the NSA's word against Snowden's -- and the NSA's word isn't worth all that much these days.

Clearly, there's more to the story than just Snowden's side. The NSA has gathered plenty of documentation about Snowden's tenure at the agency, but what that actually includes is still limited to speculation. Keys is planning to appeal this decision, but the NSA generally doesn't hand over disputed documents until a federal judge orders it to. The harder the NSA holds onto Snowden's emails, the less trustworthy it appears. If it's so certain Snowden bypassed the proper channels, why not provide evidence to back that assertion up?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    sorrykb (profile), Jul 14th, 2014 @ 1:24pm

    the NSA’s chief FOIA officer Pamela Phillips wrote that ... releasing the records “could ... cause an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy."

    And we thought the NSA had no sense of humor.

     

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  2.  
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    Pixelation, Jul 14th, 2014 @ 1:48pm

    "why not provide evidence to back that assertion up?"

    The NSA isn't about evidence, only suspicion and accusation.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 14th, 2014 @ 1:56pm

    In fairness...

    The harder the NSA holds onto Snowden's emails, the less trustworthy it appears. If it's so certain Snowden bypassed the proper channels, why not provide evidence to back that assertion up?

    I don't see how the NSA could provide that evidence. They could release what they claim to be all of Snowden's emails, and if none of those emails expressed concerns, I would most likely just assume that they were hiding more emails, because that's how little credibility they have now. (Even if the NSA still had some credibility, they'd still be trying to prove a negative, which would be difficult.)

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 14th, 2014 @ 2:21pm

    Another day, another lie from Clapper and his pet agency. So what's new? The wording in all but fact admits they have more emails concerning Snowden.

    I would remind everyone that Snowden at this point has more creditability than the entire US government when it comes to all this spying. He's backed his up with proof in what he says.

    When the government side comes out it's always about smear, lying, and misdirection. This lack of transparency is the biggest thing from them being believable on any issue.

    Every time I hear national security and classified in response to any claim I've gotten used to the idea the government and assorted agencies are once again lying to protect their own asses. It's come down to nothing but corruption and cover up when it is finally exposed what it's over.

    It's continual items like this throughout government that has the majority of citizens in this nation saying the government is headed in the wrong direction with many questioning whether the government still has the consent to govern.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 14th, 2014 @ 2:33pm

    It's normal for NSA to have "all" emails.

     

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  6.  
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    Nikki Norton, Jul 14th, 2014 @ 2:35pm

    Top secret

    Top secret so that they won't have any accountability for their actions. It's amazing how close criminal activity is to this. They want to do sneaky things and get by with it for personal gain just like criminals.

    Justice falls in the cracks. Stalking is illegal but we can have government stalkers legally causing the same damage and fear.

     

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  7.  
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    weneedhelp (profile), Jul 14th, 2014 @ 2:44pm

    The NSA could clear up this "did he/didn't he" question

    Snowden said he did... NSA said he didnt.
    Who will you believe?

     

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  8.  
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    tomczerniawski, Jul 14th, 2014 @ 2:58pm

    Well, of course it isn't going to release them. Those emails would make the NSA look bad. A matter of national security, you understand...

     

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  9.  
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    beltorak (profile), Jul 14th, 2014 @ 4:34pm

    > > could interfere with law enforcement proceedings....

    Let me translate.

    "We, The NSA (and by extension, The United States Government) intend to prosecute Mr. Snowden as a traitor, not a whistleblower, to the fullest extent of the law. If we released these emails, it might exhonerate him. That would interfere with our law enforcement efforts."

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 14th, 2014 @ 5:06pm

    NSA's word isn't worth all that much these days

    these days?  i know you are employing understatement, but on its best day ever, i'm betting the nsa word and fifty cents would get you a decent start toward a bagel if you don't have to have the cream cheese.

     

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  11.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Jul 14th, 2014 @ 5:19pm

    Couple of 'fixes' and 'additions' needed

    "We, The NSA (and by extension, The United States Government) intend to prosecute Mr. Snowden as a traitor[1], not a whistleblower, to the fullest extent of the law[2]. If we released these emails, it might exhonerate him. That would interfere with our law enforcement efforts."

    [1] According to a classified definition of 'traitor', which cannot be made public due to 'National Security: You Get Nothing'.
    [2] 'The law' according to the classified interpretations of current laws, which also cannot be made public due to 'National Security: You Get Nothing'.

     

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  12.  
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    beltorak (profile), Jul 14th, 2014 @ 6:54pm

    Re: Couple of 'fixes' and 'additions' needed

    Hey! Those footnotes were redacted in the original for a reason!

    /s

     

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  13.  
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    Padpaw (profile), Jul 14th, 2014 @ 7:11pm

    Why can't you people just accept the current American government is criminally corrupt. Every time i see an article like this, it shouts out of hope that the criminals currently in charge will start doing the right thing.

     

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  14.  
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    orbitalinsertion (profile), Jul 14th, 2014 @ 11:39pm

    Re:

    Wut? How is that so?

    Even if it were so, what is the problem with that? Interfering with The Revolution™? I've got a case of Coke® right here.

     

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  15.  
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    Ninja (profile), Jul 15th, 2014 @ 4:13am

    Re:

    Here I was, thinking that they weren't releasing it to prevent the terrorist nuclear zombie apocalypse but in reality they have an even more honest and noble reason. Privacy!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 15th, 2014 @ 4:44am

    Snowden has more credibility than the US Gov. The American public has been lied to multiple times by the US Gov, but everthing Snowden's said has turned out to be true.

    At least we're not getting least untruthful answers and misleading statements from Snowden.

     

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  17.  
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    Brian Dell, Jul 15th, 2014 @ 5:36am

    look at what Snowden had to say about the emails

    First of all, Snowden's ACLU lawyers could demand the emails if they don't have them already. But we've got no comment from the ACLU, most likely because they've got everything Snowden sent and it doesn't back up what Snowden has been claiming.

    Secondly, think about Snowden told the Council of Europe on June 24:

    Q: Can you be more precise about what internal actions you took and what kind of replies you got? How many times did you try to raise it and what was the typical answer, the typical actions the NSA took on the complaints you lodged? Were those complaints formal or informal?

    A: So this is still an ongoing process that I am working with the NSA in regard to these records and we’re going back and forth, so I don’t want to reveal everything that will come out because there’s still an ongoing debate. But what I can say is that... I went many colleagues... and also vertically: to supervisors, to managers, to directors, to people who worked above me... as well as the Office of General Counsel and the Office of Compliance...


    Snowden says he can't "reveal everything" because he is currently "going back and forth" with them, in fact, he's currently "working with the NSA in regard to these records"!

    How can you read Snowden's comment and not think the NSA isn't now acting like Snowden would want them to?

     

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  18.  
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    GEMont (profile), Jul 15th, 2014 @ 6:13am

    N_ever... S_peak... A_curately

    Well logically, its a very simple situation.

    If the NSA had anything - anything at all - that might possibly tarnish Snowden's reputation, or make him appear to be more "evil", they would have had it bronzed, welded to the side of a bus and driven all over the USA, while 4x6 glossy photos of the bus are being mailed to every house in the nation (at tax payers expense of course).

    Instead, they aren't going to let you - JQ Public who pays their fucking wages - see any of these emails ever, because - terrorists!

    Its abundantly clear that while they may indeed have other emails by Snowden - yeah they lied again when they said they didn't have anything but that one email they thought they could spin into something nasty - they have nothing at all that is in any way incriminating or even mildly embarrassing.

    In fact, what they have probably verifies everything Snowden has stated publicly so far.

    Truth - they cannot let anyone see the Snowden Emails because the content of those emails would prove that We The People are massively over-paying an army of lying dip-shit Foxes to guard the National Chicken coop.

    If there were any real terrorists out there, they'd be laughing their collective asses off at the antics of the Keystone Kop Sekurity Kids, commonly referred to as the NSA.

    Considering how absolutely inept and idiotic the National Security Protection Forces are, its a damn good thing that there really are no terrorists trying to destroy the USA (because they have wide screen TVs and SUVs), else the USA would be a smoking ruin by now.

    ---

     

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  19.  
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    Lars (profile), Jul 15th, 2014 @ 2:40pm

    Re:

    If we released these emails, it might exonerate him.


    Which is just a silly position to have, considering the Espionage Act they've charged him under doesn't allow for the use of "Public Good" as a defense.

     

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  20.  
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    Bonky Moon, Jul 15th, 2014 @ 3:59pm

    Ain't no tellin' where the money went

    NSA seeth itself as protector & benefactor
    Whilst in fact it be malefactor & bad actor

     

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  21.  
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    GEMont (profile), Jul 15th, 2014 @ 8:03pm

    Re: Ain't no tellin' where the money went

    Actually, I no longer think they consider themselves protectors/benefactors, but more of an army under siege.

    They, both the corporate employers and the young people manning the machinery, naturally see themselves as the good guys of course, but so did Hitler and his fascist generals.

    The selection of college/university grad youngsters they use to do the actual dirty work of the corporate agenda, are idealists who have been given a game scenario in which they are something like the "last remnants of humanity", fighting off the hordes of semi-intelligent zombie citizens, in a post-apocalyptic 9/11 world, using various forms of constant surveillance and remote high-tech assault methods like stealth drones and communication confusion/disinformation.

    They see the general public as the enemy and the government - their benefactor - as the thing they are trying to protect as the symbol of the American way of life and thus believe that no dirty trick is too nasty to use on the evil adversary they never have to actually face.

    The nastier the trick that succeeds in screwing over the most zombies, wins the operative a bonus in his/her paycheck and extra perks and power-ups in "the game".

    Its an excellent use of game theory tactics and an exceptional method of turning the talents of the brightest among us against the rest of the population.

    Since they never thought it possible that their methods of attack might be exposed, the corporate bosses felt omnipotent and unlimited and used every trick in the book and then some in order to pull off their Plan for a North American Conquest.

    Snowden was a wild card they never saw coming.

    That a young idealist employee, earning great money working as a "secret agent 007 type hero", for the most powerful organization on earth, might actually harbor true patriotic ideals while pretending to adhere to the false ideals nurtured and reinforced by the corporate business plan, simply wasn't something they could imagine.

    Having no contingency plan for such a situation, they have been forced to lie, obfuscate and pretend to lose evidence, over and over again since the Snowden Expose began.

    In my opinion only of course.

    ---

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Rekrul, Jul 16th, 2014 @ 5:44pm

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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