House Intelligence Committee's List Of 'Snowden's Lies' Almost Entirely False

from the and-it-took-'em-two-years dept

So, last week, I wrote up a long analysis of the House Intelligence Committee's ridiculous smear campaign against Ed Snowden, highlighting a bunch of misleading to false statements that the report made in trying to undermine Snowden's credibility as he seeks a pardon from President Obama. The Committee insisted that it had spent two years working on the report, but it seems like maybe they just needed all that time because they couldn't find any actual dirt on Snowden.

In my analysis, I pointed to some of Snowden's public responses, highlighting how the House Intel Committee was either completely misinformed or lying about Snowden. But Barton Gellman, one of the four reporters who Snowden originally gave his documents to, and who has done some amazing reporting on the Snowden leaks (not to mention, who is writing a book about Snowden) has responded to the report as well, and highlights just how incredibly dishonest the report is.

Gellman focuses on just one section -- the weird section that tries to make out Snowden as a "serial exaggerator and fabricator." Here's that paragraph again:
Fourth, Snowden was, and remains, a serial exaggerator and fabricator. A close review of Snowden's official employment records and submissions reveals a pattern of intentional lying. He claimed to have left Army basic training because of broken legs when in fact he washed out because of shin splints. He claimed to have obtained a high school degree equivalent when in fact he never did. He claimed to have worked for the CIA as a "senior advisor," which was a gross exaggeration of his entry-level duties as a computer technician. He also doctored his performance evaluations and obtained new positions at NSA by exaggerating his resume and stealing the answers to an employment test. In May 2013, Snowden informed his supervisor that he would be out of the office to receive treatment for worsening epilepsy. In reality, he was on his way to Hong Kong with stolen secrets.
As we noted on Friday, Snowden disputed almost everything in this paragraph, saying that it would be "extremely unwise" for them to say he didn't have a GED, and (more importantly) pointed out that it wasn't shin splints that kept him out of the Army, and that the "doctored performance evaluation" was actually him showing (as requested by his managers) a "proof of concept" of a vulnerability in the CIA's computer system.

Gellman takes all of these points even deeper and debunks the House Intelligence Committee's findings with checkable facts. The "shin splints" claim? Gellman has reviewed Snowden's Army paperwork. It wasn't shin splints.
This is verifiably false for anyone who, as the committee asserts it did, performs a “close review of Snowden’s official employment records.” Snowden’s Army paperwork, some of which I have examined, says he met the demanding standards of an 18X Special Forces recruit and mustered into the Army on June 3, 2004. The diagnosis that led to his discharge, on crutches, was bilateral tibial stress fractures.
A shin splint comes from the muscles and bone tissue around the tibia being overworked, often by repetitive injury. It's true that tibia stress fractures are sometimes confused with shin splints, but an actual fracture is much more serious (and doctors will sometimes check to see if shin splints are really a stress fracture if they're not going away). If Snowden was in the hospital and on crutches with bilateral tibial stress fractures, that's way past shin splints. The House Intel Committee was either lied to or is lying here to the public -- ironically in the section they claim is about Snowden's fabrications and exaggerations.

How about the claim that he never got his GED? It turns out that Gellman actually has the evidence:
I do not know how the committee could get this one wrong in good faith. According to the official Maryland State Department of Education test report, which I have reviewed, Snowden sat for the high school equivalency test on May 4, 2004. He needed a score of 2250 to pass. He scored 3550. His Diploma No. 269403 was dated June 2, 2004, the same month he would have graduated had he returned to Arundel High School after losing his sophomore year to mononucleosis. In the interim, he took courses at Anne Arundel Community College.
So, again, in the section on fabrications and exaggerations, the House Intel Committee appears to be the one fabricating stuff. It again raises the question of whether or not they were lied to or just failed to do basic due diligence into the truth of the claim.

What about the claim about his level in the CIA? Again, Gellman to the rescue with evidence:
Judge for yourself. Here are the three main roles Snowden played at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). (1) His entry level position, as a contractor, was system administrator (one among several) of the agency’s Washington metropolitan area network. (2) After that he was selected for and spent six months in training as a telecommunications information security officer, responsible for all classified technology in U.S. embassies overseas. The CIA deployed him to Geneva under diplomatic cover, complete with an alias identity and a badge describing him as a State Department attache. (3) In his third CIA job, the title on his Dell business card was “solutions consultant / cyber referent” for the intelligence community writ large—the company’s principal point of contact for cyber contracts and proposals. In that role, Snowden met regularly with the chiefs and deputy chiefs of the CIA’s technical branches to talk through their cutting edge computer needs.
Gellman also has more detail on that whole "doctoring his performance evaluation" claim, noting how the House Intel Committee was clearly exaggerating the truth:
Truly deceptive, this. I will tell the story in my book. Suffice to say that Snowden discovered and reported a security hole in the CIA’s human resources intranet page. With his supervisor’s permission, he made a benign demonstration of how a hostile actor could take control. He did not change the content of his performance evaluation. He changed the way it displayed on screen.
Gellman has a few more in his post as well, but the short version is that "four of the six claims are egregiously false, and a fifth is hard to credit." Oh, and the one "true" claim? That he lied to his bosses saying he was going for epilepsy treatment when he was really heading off to hand over the files to reporters.

And so we're left with the question: how the hell did the House Intelligence Committee spend two years... to get everything so incredibly wrong? And will anyone actually call them on this?

Filed Under: barton gellman, ed snowden, house intelligence committee, pardon snowden, smear campaign

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  1. icon
    Padpaw (profile), 19 Sep 2016 @ 2:12pm


    considering they rule the government and use fear of the terrorism they fund create support and sometimes directly cause to happen to keep people in line.

    Will take a massacre of unarmed american civilians by state sponsored forces for the apathetic and disinterested people to care about what happens to more than just themselves.

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