Exclusive: Snowden Tried To Tell NSA About Surveillance Concerns, Documents Reveal
By Jason Leopold, Marcy Wheeler, And Ky Henderson for VICE News
On the morning of May 29, 2014, an overcast Thursday in Washington, DC, the general counsel of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), Robert Litt, wrote an email to high-level officials at the National Security Agency and the White House.
The topic: what to do about Edward Snowden.
Snowden’s leaks had first come to light the previous June, when the Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald and the Washington Post’s Barton Gellman published stories based on highly classified documents provided to them by the former NSA contractor. Now Snowden, who had been demonized by the NSA and the Obama administration for the past year, was publicly claiming something that set off alarm bells at the agency: Before he leaked the documents, Snowden said, he had repeatedly attempted to raise his concerns inside the NSA about its surveillance of US citizens and the agency had done nothing.
Some on the email thread, such as Rajesh De, the NSA’s general counsel, advocated for the public release of a Snowden email from April 2013 in which the former NSA contractor asked questions about the “interpretation of legal authorities” related to the agency’s surveillance programs. It was the only evidence the agency found that even came close to verifying Snowden’s assertions, and De believed it was weak enough to call Snowden’s credibility into question and put the NSA in the clear.
Litt disagreed. “I’m not sure that releasing the email will necessarily prove him a liar,” Litt wrote to Caitlin Hayden, then the White House National Security Council spokesperson, along with De and other officials. “It is, I could argue, technically true that he Agency has no record that he submitted complaints to senior NSA leadership including the NSA Director, Deputy Director, and Executive Director.”
It’s a denial of claims Snowden never made.
Follow Jason Leopold on Twitter: @JasonLeopold
Follow Marcy Wheeler on Twitter: @emptywheel
Follow Ky Henderson on Twitter: @kyhenderson
Marcy Wheeler’s blog, emptywheel.net, has received funding from the Freedom of the Press Foundation, of which Edward Snowden is a board member.
June 4, 2016 at 06:35PM
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