What are we to make of Edward Snowden, now under the protection of Russian president-for-life Vladimir Putin?
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Snowden fancies himself a whistleblower saving us from a vast domestic surveillance program by the National Security Agency. That’s the view of Sen. Rand Paul. His father, Ron Paul, is organizing a clemency petition for Snowden. That viewpoint won a Pulitzer prize for the Washington Post and the Guardian newspaper and their reporters won Polk Awards for national security writing for being a conduit for Snowden’s information leaks.
Is Snowden a whistleblower or is he a mole, or even a Manchurian Candidate?
Piecing together information from statements by key intelligence officials, Edward Jay Epstein in a May 10 Wall Street Journal column makes a compelling case that Snowden is something more than a whistleblower.
When Snowden infiltrated in mid-April 2013 the national security computer system from his Booz Allen Hamilton job in Hawaii, he planted robotic programs known as “spiders” that “scrape” targeted documents. He rounded up 1.7 million documents. He gained “access to every target, every active operation” mounted by the NSA against the Chinese, he told James Risen of the New York Times.
After downloading those 1.7 million documents, Snowden flew to Hong Kong and told the China Morning Post that his job at the Signals Intelligence Center in Hawaii had given him “access to the lists of machines in China, Hong Kong and elsewhere that ‘the NSA hacked. That is why I accepted that position about three months ago,’” Epstein wrote.
These two quotes from Snowden obviously indicated he got a lot more than just information about the NSA’s domestic surveillance using phone data to connect the dots between foreign terrorists and U.S. residents. That information was contained in a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court order issued April 26, 2013. That was, therefore, the last thing he stole.
The 1.7 million stolen documents were described by Rick Ledgett, who headed the NSA task force that analyzed Snowden’s data theft, and told “60 Minutes” Dec. 13, 2013, that the stolen data contained “the keys to the kingdom” and provides “adversaries with a road map of what we know, what we don’t know.”
Former NSA Director Keith Alexander told an Australian newspaper that many of the stolen documents reveal secret cyber operation capabilities.
Snowden worked at the signals center from mid-March through May, when he flew to Hong Kong. Then he beat it to Russia.
He took that job to spy on this country and steal its secrets. The domestic phone data gathering authorized by FISA on April 26, 2013, is just misdirection.