Declassified Snowden Report Says He Endangered American Lives

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December 22, 2016 at 2:02 pm ET

The House Intelligence Committee on Thursday released a declassified version of an investigative report on former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden that illustrates what committee leaders called a reckless disregard for Americans’ safety and privacy.

The review found that Snowden “handed over secrets that protect American troops overseas and secrets that provide vital defenses against terrorists and nation states,” according to the committee.

Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said in a statement accompanying the report’s release that Snowden showed “reckless disregard” for “U.S. national security.” In the same statement, ranking member Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said Snowden “and his defenders claim that he is a whistleblower, but he isn’t, as the committee’s review shows.”

The bipartisan report provides a history of Snowden’s career at the Central Intelligence Agency and as an NSA contractor, where he had several run-ins with colleagues and supervisors, according to the report. The committee found that a vast majority of stolen documents did not relate to electronic surveillance and instead delved into personal network drives of people who were involved in hiring decisions.

The report also exposes weaknesses in the background-check system. In a summary of its findings, the committee expressed concern that the intelligence community “has not done enough to minimize the risk of another massive unauthorized disclosure.”

Committee staff have been reviewing documents from the intelligence community for two years, and the classified version of the report was published Sept. 15.

Snowden began working at the CIA in 2006 as an entry-level systems operator. Almost immediately, he began complaining to supervisors and documenting the goings on of other systems operators, according to the report. Over the next few years, he had several counseling sessions to correct his behavior at work, which included confronting supervisors and altering the CIA’s performance review software, the report said.

Snowden applied for an NSA contractor position with Perot Systems in March 2009, according to the report, and because he was still a CIA employee, his security clearance was in good standing. Snowden resigned in April, meaning the NSA wasn’t aware of that status in the earlier background check, the report said.

“It is unclear if NSA Security would have treated Snowden’s on boarding differently if NSA had been aware of [redacted],” the report said.

Snowden took a position with as a general systems administrator in Hawaii in 2012, which required him to take a counterintelligence polygraph test, the report said, adding that the first test was inconclusive and the second was successful.

Shortly after he moved to Hawaii, Snowden began downloading information from the NSA networks, the report said, and he got a new job as an NSA contractor with Booz Allen Hamilton in March 2013, when he analyzed foreign networks and cyber operators. There, he had more access to NSA documents that he eventually downloaded.

Two months later, he took two weeks of unpaid leave and departed to Hong Kong, according to the report, which noted that he told his supervisor that he was returning to the continental United States for treatment of a medical condition. After those two weeks, his supervisor started looking for him, the report said, and two days later Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald published the first of Snowden’s disclosures.

In a series of tweets, Snowden and his lawyer Ben Wizner said the report is riddled with falsehoods that are easily disproved.

Update 4:03 p.m. This story has been updated to add Snowden’s response.

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