Despite Congressional bloviation, the NSA doesn’t think that Edward Snowden is a foreign spy. NSA Chief Admiral Michael Rogers doesn’t think it likely that Snowden is working for Russia, or any other country’s intelligence apparatus.
“Could he have? Possibly. Do I believe that’s the case? Probably not,” said Rogers.
The only surprising element of the Rogers comment is that he said it. There has been a steady drumbeat of intrigue and dreck trying to tie Snowden to Russia, as something of a poodle or other sort of lapdog. Here are a few samples for flavor.
Snowden’s own words:
“I have no relationship with the Russian government at all. I’m not supported by the Russian government. I’m not taking money from the Russian government. I’m not a spy.”
Senator Feinstein’s take:
Feinstein was then asked by Meet the Press host David Gregory if she agreed that Snowden might have had Russian support. “He may well have,” she responded, before adding that “we don’t know at this stage.”
Rep. Mike Rogers, take one:
Rogers, appearing on NBC’s Meet the Press, raised the possibility that Snowden acted with Russian support. “I believe there’s a reason he ended up in the hands, the loving arms, of an FSB agent in Moscow,” said Rogers, referencing Russia’s main internal-security apparatus. “I don’t think it was a gee-whiz luck event that he ended up in Moscow under the handling of the FSB.”
Rep. Michael McCaul’s take:
MCCAUL: Hey, listen, I don’t think Snowden — Mr. Snowden woke up one day and had the wherewithal to do this all by himself. I think he was helped by others.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The Russians?
MCCAUL: You know, to say definitively, I can’t — I can’t answer that.
But I personally believe that he was cultivated by a foreign power to do what he did. And he — I would submit, again, that he’s not a hero by any stretch. He’s a traitor. He — he lives not very far down the street from where I am right now, enjoying probably less freedoms today here in Russia than he had in the United States of America.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That’s a pretty serious charge, sir.
Which foreign power do you believe cultivated Edward Snowden?
MCCAUL: Again, I can’t give a definitive statement on that. I — but I’ve been given all the evidence, I know Mike Rogers has access to, you know, that I’ve seen that I don’t think he was acting alone.
Rep. Mike Rogers, take two:
The NSA contractor is definitely under the influence of Russian officials. We know that he was in China, Hong Kong anyway, and in Russia today. We have seen patterns and activities that lead us to believe that some or all of that information is being worked through by those intelligence services and putting the U.S. at risk.
Michael Morell, the former deputy CIA director, said he shared Rogers’ concern about what Russian intelligence services may be doing with Snowden.
“I don’t have any particular evidence but one of the things I point to when I talk about this is that the disclosures that have been coming recently are very sophisticated in their content and sophisticated in their timing – almost too sophisticated for Mr. Snowden to be deciding on his own. And it seems to me he might be getting some help,” Morell said on “Face the Nation.”
Rep. Mike Rogers, take three:
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he believes there is “good evidence” that the former National Security Agency contractor hasn’t told the truth about his activities in Hong Kong and Moscow – and that Snowden had earlier help from Russian intelligence operatives than he has previously admitted.
“I do believe there’s more to this story,” Rogers said. “He is under the influence of Russian intelligence officials today. He’s actually supporting, in an odd way, this very activity of brazen brutality and expansionism of Russia. He needs to understand that.”
The NSA head said something that I think bears repeating here. Quote, as before, via the Guardian US:
“Now, I’m not one who’s going to sit here and overhype the threat [or say] that in the name of this threat we have to make dramatic changes and curtail our rights, because if we go down that road, in the end, they’ve won. If we change who we are and what we believe and what we represent in the name of security, they have won. I have always believed that.”