Edward Snowden

NSA Says It Can't Find Emails Where Snowden Expressed Concerns About Controversial Surveillance Programs


For the last year, when it's come to disclosures about the surveillance operations of the National Security Agency (NSA), the Obama Administration has said one thing and Edward Snowden has said another. Now the NSA would like to turn the tables. After Snowden said in an NBC News interview that he had repeatedly raised concerns about the legality of the NSA's surveillance programs, the NSA claims they could only find one e-mail from Snowden that related to the programs, sent in April 2013, and that it didn't express concern.

In the e-mail, Snowden questioned whether it was true that Executive Orders had the same precedence as law in a "Hierarchy of Governing Authorities" provided during training. Snowden also said he brought up concerns face to face with multiple colleagues and supervisors, but, the Sydney Morning Herald reports, the NSA did not respond to a query about whether it had asked those people about those alleged conversations. Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) backed the NSA, telling the San Francisco Chronicle that when she asked the agency about whether there was any documentation Edward Snowden had tried to blow the whistle on the NSA's surveillance operations it told her there wasn't.

The Obama Administration has insisted Snowden did not have to go to the press with his NSA disclosures but should have followed official channels, such as going to Congress. As a contractor for the NSA, however, Snowden would not be afforded the same whistleblower protections as government employees. The White House has said clemency for Snowden is "off the table" and appears eager to get him back to the United States to face prosecution.

Despite accusing Snowden of treason and espionage, the government has admitted, albeit slowly, that some kind of reform of the NSA's surveillance operations is necessary. Late last year, a White House panel made more than 40 recommendations on how to reform the NSA, largely trying to limit how much data the agency collects and who it can target. While Ron Bailey wrote that the recommendations did not go far enough, even they may be a bridge too far for the Obama Administration. Last week, meanwhile, the House passed a watered-down version of an NSA "reform" bill troublingly called the USA FREEDOM Act.

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  1. If Snowden had made his revelations with a Republican in the White House he’d been uniformly hailed as a hero.

  2. -itor? -ward Snowden? -Krayewski?

  3. Shocking. You mean to tell me that someone who stole 1.7 million classified documents and took them to China, and revealed multiple legitimate, Top Secret intelligence collection efforts that have nothing to do with domestic spying thereby becoming both a thief AND a traitor, actually might lie to make himself seem like less of a turd?

    1. Snowden is a hero. Sycophants like yourself only demonize the guy because he embarrassed your daddy, big Godverment.

      The more I’ve stewed on his whole story, the more I support him. Everyone attacks the guy, paints him to be some traitor etc… but it’s all killing of the messenger. Why aren’t you as critical of your govt who is clearly breaking the law? What will you do about it? Hashtag it?

      1. If Snowden’s true objective had been to disclose alleged illegal domestic spying, he could have done that with a few dozen documents. As a supposed “expert”, he should have known exactly what those alleged programs were, and what documents would prove it. Instead, he stole 1.7 million classified documents, the majority of which have been released, have nothing to do with domestic spying of any kind. In fact, the majority of the documents that have been released disclose legitimate, legal collection efforts against foreign targets. They disclose sources and methods that are legitimately and legally used to collect intelligence on enemies and potential adversaries, and by releasing those documents, he has cause irreparable harm to our ability to collect valid intelligence. He’s a fucking traitor, and when the Russians are done with him, he’s going to get what he deserves. Maybe he’ll get to share a cell with Chelsea before we execute him.

        I am 100% against any violations of the Bill of Rights. IF there was, in fact, illegal domestic spying, I fully expect those who DIRECTED IT, to suffer the legal consequences. HOWEVER, that does not absolve Snowden of his traitorous acts.

        This shit happened because WE allowed the people we elected to pass bullshit laws, and interpret them any way they want.

        1. Majority haven’t been released, so there’s that.

          And you seem to have an almost sexual lust for execution of those who embarrass the State, no?

          And nope, I voted for none of the programs. Washington is on it’s own program- we have no say in these things, whether we like them or not. And it’s not “if” there was domestic spying- it is documented. Again, why kill the messenger? Are you as mad a the “fucking traitor” government who spies on you?

        2. Maybe I haven’t followed this story closely enough, but I’m not aware of leaks that have caused “irreparable harm” to the ability to collect intelligence on “enemies and potential adversaries”. The leaks about programs targeting foreigners seem to have mostly been about 1) allies or 2) heads of state or other high-level officials in countries that don’t pose any real threat to the U.S. (like Brazil or Mexico). Maybe those activities aren’t illegal, but I wouldn’t call them legitimate. Do you know something I don’t?

          One of the bigger issues is that the democratic process couldn’t sanction these programs, because we the voters didn’t know about them. We didn’t even have a vague idea of them. Few would be surprised to learn that the NSA listens in on terrorists, North Korea, and Iran. I doubt many expect the heads of state of Germany, Mexico, and Brazil to fall under the category of foreign enemies.

          1. LynchPin1477|5.30.14 @ 11:50AM|#
            “Maybe I haven’t followed this story closely enough, but I’m not aware of leaks that have caused “irreparable harm” to the ability to collect intelligence on “enemies and potential adversaries”.”

            Gee, I’d say you’ve followed it just fine.

            1. I try to be cognizant of my own potential ignorance.

        3. I know the US is in the bottom half in math but in what world is less than 200,000 a majority of 1.7 million?

        4. I’m totally with you man.

          Snowden is far from a hero. He’s a dupe. He’s in Russia after all.

          1. He’s in Russia because they’re the only country willing to take him.

            The prevailing idea that Snowden should “man up” and submit himself to the same criminals that he exposed is laughably moronic.

            I support what he did. And I support his attempts to evade capture by the criminals he exposed.

            1. Do you support his revealing classified surveillance programs that have nothing to do with US citizens?

              Russia is using him as a political pawn. Once they’re done with him, he’ll be ejected from the country, put on a US-bound flight, and thrown out like the trash that he is.

    2. Shocking. You mean to tell me that someone who stole 1.7 million classified documents and took them to China, and revealed multiple legitimate, Top Secret intelligence collection efforts that have nothing to do with domestic spying thereby becoming both a thief AND a traitor, actually might lie to make himself seem like less of a turd?

      I 100% agree with your belief that Snowden is no hero. He’s a bungling turd. My government takes phenomenal amounts of tax money to be completely overwhelmed by a bungling turd.

      You believe it.

      The funniest part is you, somehow, believe that the US intelligence community was a paragon of efficiency and effectiveness prior to Snowden and will return to a paragon of efficiency and effectiveness once the leak has been contained. When so much of history demonstrates it to be true and, when given the opportunity to disprove it, the intelligence community proves that it can routinely be thwarted by bungling turds.

      1. EDIT: Dammit history demonstrates it to be UNtrue…

        Where’s the damned edit button?

      2. You can be a bungling idiot, or a turd in a punch bowl, but you can’t be a bungling turd.

        (You could, however, be an idiot in a punch bowl I suppose?)

  4. Snowden is a hero, the only ones who seem to think otherwise are unprincipled (or at least inconsistently principled) nationalists who would rather sweep bad secrets under the rug and put people in jail for doing something moral – simply to avoid domestic/international embarassment, or avoid highlighting of the NSA/government’s awfulness. I guess they think the country will fall apart if people question and distrust the government. Thus we see they are actually statists, at least in part, in disguise.

    They buy into the false notion that these program were mainly for “legitimate” use to protect troops, American citizens, etc. Horseshit.

    F spying programs altogether. I condemn the notion that violating the privacy and rights of humans is okay if they live in another country. That’s what nationalism, and the ensuing xenophobia, does though : “if they are not Americans, who cares”. That is not principled ,that is simply “team” mentality that we so often call-out on those we disagree with.

    1. “F spying programs altogether. I condemn the notion that violating the privacy and rights of humans is okay if they live in another country. ”

      Every nation spies on every other nation, to the best of their technical and financial abilities. As much as you might hope it to be, the world isn’t covered with unicorns, rainbows, and rivers of chocolate. “Hope” isn’t a strategy. Like it or not, there are governments, religions, groups, and individuals on this planet that would grease their tank treads with your blood, and whether it’s for xenophobic reasons, nationalistic reasons, or simply for some “lebensraum”, is irrelevant. The idea that we shouldn’t make an effort to be aware of potential threats, is naive. Condemn it all you want, but the reality is that spying, using covert methods to obtain information, has always happened and always will.

      1. Reason comments need more of you. There is a lot of ignorance and stupidity here that needs to be obliterated. Libertarians have no chance if they’re ignorant and stupid. They need more smart people like yourself.

      2. It is, as a matter of fact, quite easy to condemn other governments for doing this as well.

        It isn’t right in any way, shape, or form. The fact will always be that violating the privacy rights of individuals is unconstitutional, as well as morally wrong.

        And I love the way you go on about military powers using this technology for their evil schemes, without once noting that the NSA provides metadata to local and state and federal police agencies. Agencies that then don SWAT gear and brutally beat, rape, torture, and murder Innocent Americans.

        In short, Go Fuck Yourself.

        1. That’s funny coming from someone who calls himself “RussianPrimeMinister”.

      3. So in short, your NSA ass-kissing is predicated on the “everybody does it” principle?

        1. In short, it’s predicated on the “the World is a bad place and if we don’t spy on people we’re going to get fucked” principle.

  5. The talk about Snowden is just a distraction. The rightness or wrongness of what the NSA and the intelligence community at large is doing has nothing to do with whether or not Snowden is a hero and a Boy Scout, or a traitor and a liar. He provided documented proof of the NSA’s activities, so we don’t have to rely on his word. His honesty or lack thereof is of no consequence.

  6. “NSA Says It Can’t Find E-Mails Where Snowden Expressed Concerns About Controversial Surveillance Programs”

    Mr. Clapper, didn’t I give you the copies? Did you lose them? Not again!

    1. Look behind Al Gore’s VP emails.

  7. Here’s hoping Snowden has copies of those emails that he can whip out to prove NSA lying yet again.

    1. While I hope Snowden didn’t lie about emailing the NSA about his concerns (I’m WAY more likely to believe the NSA destroyed such emails over Snowden never sending them), that shouldn’t detract from what Snowden has brought to public view.

      Snowden himself is a complete distraction; talking about him and dissecting his persona ONLY benefits the NSA.

    2. He must by lying if he hasn’t already produced them.

      1. If Snowden produced the copies people would claim them to be fake so he is in a no win situation with some.

  8. Hey NSA: those emails are probably in between my emails to my mom talking about my vacation to Mexico in 2013 you have yet to review. Spoiler: I didn’t meet a terrorist.

  9. It’s a little hard to trust anything the NSA says these days, considering they said they didn’t do all this stuff… Till Snowden leaked it, and they came sort of clean mixed in with a lot of lies.

    1. Yep, this doesn’t make Snowden trusty worthy at all.

  10. So far, not one thing the government has said in regard to Snowden has been true. I don’t believe this claim, either.

  11. this wouldn’t be the first time the government lied about emails that it has so why should we believe them this time since everything else Snowden has said has turned out to be true.

  12. Isn’t it amazing that the NSA can find imaginary rights for themselves and yet can’t find some emails in their system. Could it be they deleted the emails because they didn’t want to respond to complaints? Or are they lying again?

    1. Time to repurpose that old joke about how to know when a lawyer is lying.

    2. The NSA doesn’t “find imaginary rights for themselves” any more than the Army starts wars for itself. Both are tasked by the President as Commander in Chief. Both follow the law as passed by the Legislature, and interpreted by the Judiciary. If you feel the need to place blame somewhere, place it at the feet of a population that’s incredibly stupid and continuously votes for the Pelosi’s and Strom Thurmond’s of the nation.

  13. Why are they trying to collect massive amounts of data when they can’t even find the communications from their own employees?

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