Over the weekend, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), the Intelligence Committee chairs for the Senate and House respectively, speculated on TV talk shows that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was working as a Russian spy. Evidence? None whatsover.
Instead the Senator and the Congressman are clearly engaged in a disinformation campaign aimed at confusing Americans as part of their efforts to maintain domestic surveillance powers.
In an online interview with Jane Mayer at The New Yorker, Snowden denies the accusations and criticizes the news media for giving an uncontested platform to NSA enablers. From The New Yorker:
"It's not the smears that mystify me," Snowden told me. "It's that outlets report statements that the speakers themselves admit are sheer speculation." Snowden went on to poke fun at the range of allegations that have been made against him in the media without intelligence officials providing some kind of factual basis: "?'We don't know if he had help from aliens.' 'You know, I have serious questions about whether he really exists.'?"
Snowden went on, "It's just amazing that these massive media institutions don't have any sort of editorial position on this. I mean these are pretty serious allegations, you know?" He continued, "The media has a major role to play in American society, and they're really abdicating their responsibility to hold power to account."
Snowden further challenges his accusers to show evidence that his revelations of just how comprehensively the NSA had violated the Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure have caused harm to national security. The New Yorker interview concludes:
Snowden said that he "knew what he was getting into" when he became a whistleblower. "At least the American public has a seat at the table now," he said. "It may sound trite," but if "I end up disgraced in a ditch somewhere, but it helps the country, it will still be worth it."
Rogers and Feinstein clearly know that they are peddling what amounts to lies. As Techdirt reports:
Meanwhile, both the NSA's guy in charge of reviewing the Snowden situation, Rick Ledgett, as well as the FBI team investigating Snowden have both said that there is absolutely no indication that Snowden was working with anyone else. The NSA specifically has said:
The NSA's internal review has determined about 98 percent of the scope of the material that Snowden had accessed, and officials have found no evidence that he had help either within the NSA or from adversary spy agencies.(added emphasis)
As for the FBI:
According to senior government officials, F.B.I. agents from the bureau's Washington field office, who are leading the investigation, believe that Mr. Snowden methodically downloaded the files over several months while working as a government contractor at the Hawaii facility. They also believe that he worked alone, the officials said.(added emphasis)
The articles in both The New Yorker and Techdirt are well worth your attention.
For more background on the ungrounded speculations by NSA stooge Rogers, see my blogpost, "Joe McCarthy Would Be Proud: Surveillance State Functionary Rep. Mike Rogers Implies Snowden is a Russian Spy."
Start your day with Reason. Get a daily brief of the most important stories and trends every weekday morning when you subscribe to Reason Roundup.