The man behind the biggest leak of United States government secrets in history, Edward Snowden, is having his reputation challenged by the very entity he sought to call out, the National Security Agency (NSA). According to the agency, only one email can be found which relates to him raising concerns internally about government surveillance overreach. That stands in stark contrast to what Snowden told reporters Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras in Hong Kong last summer, where he first detailed his history and the wealth of information he'd taken. "They would say 'this isn't your job,' or you'd be told you don't have enough information to make those kinds of judgments," Snowden says in Greenwald's recent book, No Place to Hide. "You'd basically be instructed not to worry about it."
Specifically, the email released today by NSA allegedly shows Snowden asking for a hierarchical clarification. In what is said to be an email Snowden wrote in April 2013, he's shown asking about the standing of executive orders (EOs) -- directives ordered by the president which hold the "force and effect of law." It's fairly innocuous, but the revelation is intended to bring Snowden's credibility into question. "If he lied about reporting issues to his bosses, what else did he lie about?"
The issue with this logic is we have no way of verifying whether Snowden recorded any other instances of flag-waving when employed by the Central Intelligence Agency or National Security Agency. Additionally, if he did make any other internal efforts, who's to say they were conducted over email rather than, say, in person?
It also stands to reason that he would've raised an alarm internally much earlier given his history with various US intelligence agencies. As reported by Greenwald, Snowden's disillusionment with US surveillance methods began to evolve into a whistleblowing plan as early as late 2009. For its part, NSA points out that the alleged Snowden email it released, "did not raise allegations or concerns about wrongdoing or abuse." Further, the agency has "searched for additional indications of outreach from him in those areas and to date have not discovered any engagements related to his claims." And us? Well, this is a game of he said/she said involving a highly secretive organization and a highly secretive individual. The organization has repeatedly been caught lying, as proven by classified documents revealed by Snowden. Do with that what you will.
[Image credit: Laura Poitras, The Guardian]