A blockbuster story in the Monday Wall Street Journal reveals the terrible damage National Security Agency (NSA) leaker Edward Snowden has done, enabling Russian “war planners” to avoid detection as they evaded U.S. surveillance and staged the invasion of Ukraine.
At the same time, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), says Snowden’s theft of documents has made it harder for U.S. troops to avoid being maimed or killed by terrorist bombs known as improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
“Some U.S. military and intelligence officials say Russia’s war planners might have used knowledge about the U.S.’s usual surveillance techniques to change communication methods about the looming invasion,” the Journal said in its front page story. “U.S. officials haven’t determined how Russia hid its military plans from U.S. eavesdropping equipment that picks up digital and electronic communications.”
ABC’s “The Note” calls the Journal story a must-read, explaining that the Journal disclosed that “intelligence analysts were surprised because they hadn’t intercepted any telltale communications where Russian leaders, military commanders or soldiers discussed plans to invade.”
Strangely, however, the story never mentions Edward Snowden, the former intelligence analyst now being controlled by the Russian security agency, the FSB, in Moscow.
Clearly, however, the “knowledge” about U.S. surveillance techniques came from Snowden.
Snowden’s collaborators in the media, who revealed his stolen documents about NSA surveillance of America’s enemies and adversaries, are up for prestigious Pulitzer Prizes when these awards are announced at Columbia University on April 14. AIM has argued that such awards would constitute another black eye for the media and undermine whatever confidence the American people have left in the press.
In a statement to POLITICO about the possibility of Pulitzers being given to Snowden’s mouthpieces in the media, AIM asked, “Specifically, what did Snowden tell the Russian FSB about U.S. capabilities to detect and deter a Russian invasion of Ukraine, or the ability of the U.S. to determine the nature or intentions of the Putin regime?”
The answer is now in. Thanks to Snowden, the U.S. was deceived.
On Sunday’s “Meet the Press” program on NBC, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-MI) said, “We know today [of] no counterintelligence official in the United States [who] does not believe that Mr. Snowden, the NSA contractor, is not under the influence of Russian intelligence services.”
In a clear reference to Russian aggression in Ukraine, Rogers said, “He is under the influence of Russian intelligence officials today. He is actually supporting in an odd way this very activity of brazen brutality and expansionism of Russia. He needs to understand that. And I think Americans need to understand that. We need to put it in proper context.”
He added that Snowden is “clearly in Moscow, under the influence of intelligence services for a country that is expanding its borders today using military force. I think there’s a lot more questions that need to be answered here.”
The Wall Street Journal said, “America’s vaunted global surveillance is a vital tool for U.S. intelligence services, especially as an early-warning system and as a way to corroborate other evidence. In Crimea, though, U.S. intelligence officials are concluding that Russian planners might have gotten a jump on the West by evading U.S. eavesdropping.”
“Inside Crimea,” it went on, “Russian troops exercised what U.S. officials describe as extraordinary discipline in their radio and cellphone communications. Remarks that were intercepted by U.S. spy agencies revealed no hint of the plans.”
It said, “To close the information gap, U.S. spy agencies and the military are rushing to expand satellite coverage and communications-interception efforts across Russia, Ukraine and the Baltic states. U.S. officials hope the ‘surge’ in assets and analysts will improve tracking of the Russian military and tip off the U.S. to any possible intentions of Russian President Vladimir Putin before he acts on them.”
In a March 7 National Public Radio interview, Lt. Gen. Flynn of the DIA mentioned Snowden and said, “If I’m concerned about anything, I’m concerned about defense capabilities that he may have stolen from where he worked, and does that knowledge then get into the hands of our adversaries—in this case, of course, Russia.”
Asked if Snowden got access to “war plans” and the ways and means by which the U.S. gathers intelligence, Flynn said, “The answer to it is we really don’t know. From what we do know, we have to assume the worst case and then begin to make some recommendations to our leadership about how do we mitigate some of the risks that may come from—from what may have been compromised. This is going to be one of these instances where we’re going to be dealing with this for many, many years.”
Flynn went on to say that Snowden had stolen information regarding how U.S. forces are able to “defeat some of these improvised explosive devices,” which have killed and maimed thousands of U.S. soldiers. He said “We know that there’s some evidence that he [Snowden] may have gotten some information about that. And so we have to protect, you know, how we defeat these kind of devices. So we may need to change some of the way we operate.”
The implication is that Snowden’s disclosures will increase the likelihood of more “wounded warriors” from conflicts in the Middle East and around the world.
Yet, at the time Snowden began making his charges, he was hailed by such figures as radio hosts Michael Savage and Glenn Beck as a hero.
Many liberals are also ardent Snowden backers, with a group called Action for a Progressive Future scheduling a Tuesday news conference in Washington to “call for a change in the U.S. government stance toward NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.” One of the participants, former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, calls Snowden a patriot.
Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism, and can be contacted at [email protected].