New information has recently surfaced around ex NSA staffer and whistle blower Edward Snowden and his efforts to raise awareness regarding U.S. government surveillance.
According to Vice News, the truth regarding the entire incident, which took place in 2013 is much more complicated than the U.S. government originally let on. Vice recently published a report based on documents that it secured only after fighting for two years with the American government over the correct interpretation of the Freedom on Information Act. This is just one of many highly publicized legal battles regarding government surveillance and encryption.
According to Snowden, he had tried every other avenue available to him before stealing and leaking NSA documents.
“I had reported these clearly problematic programs to more than 10 district officials, none of whom took any action to address them,” Snowden stated in a testimony before the European Parliament in March 2014.
Conversely, the NSA maintained that it could only locate one email message from Snowden that even touched upon the subject of problematic government surveillance programs.
Vice found that Snowden did indeed send more than one email warning. He apparently sent an email out to one member of the NSA who actually responded and had an in-person interaction with him. According tot he FOIA documents, the NSA, the Obama administration, and Senator Dianne Feinstein all attempted to discredit him by being dishonest.
The agency continues to insist that it has found no email records in which Snowden raises concerns about the programs with its senior leadership.
While Edward Snowden has yet to comment on the story, Snowden’s former employer, Booz Allen, has had no qualms reiterating its opinion of the man:
“Edward Snowden was an employee for Booz Allen for less than two months, and his behavior in releasing national security information was illegal, unethical and not reflective of our firm’s values and ethical standards,” said spokesperson for Booz Allen Misty Holbert.
That said, many continue to empathize with Snowden and feel distrust towards the government. In fact, Snowden allegedly felt ambivalent about the issues raised in the declassified documents as he suspected that the NSA may have ulterior motives for releasing them.
According to Richard Stiennon, chief research analyst with IT-Harvest, the government is likely attempting “to try and convict- in abstentia- Edward Snowden for revealing information about the NSA…One way to do that is to sully his character by making it look like he didn’t follow proper procedures.”
“They’re trying to paint him as a villain and criminal,” Stiennon continued. “One of the ways to do that is to demonstrate that we’re so open to internal criticism, all he had to do is come to us and we would have listened to him. We know that’s ridiculous because the NSA isn’t prepared to change.”
Shahid Buttar, director of grassroots advocacy for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, stated the following:
“Snowden has claimed from the beginning that he shared word in official channels that there were oversight problems… The agency denied he shared word and now there are documents showing he did. That reflects the narrative of the underlying abuses themselves, which the agency denied and said didn’t exist… It’s part of a continuing cycle of official denial of fact.”