- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 6, 2016

Responding to the latest major leak of sensitive government documents, the White House said Thursday the case of a National Security Agency contractor charged with removing classified material was “unique” from the episode of fugitive NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

“The case of Mr. Snowden and this individual is unique,” said White House press secretary Josh Earnest. “Each is unique. This is something that our government has been confronting for a long time.”

Although the Obama Justice Department has prosecuted more government officials for alleged leaks of information under the Espionage Act than all his predecessors combined, the administration still has suffered a string of embarrassing leaks, including Mr. Snowden’s revelations of U.S. global surveillance programs in 2013 and the disclosure by Wikileaks in 2010 of diplomatic cables and documents about the war in Afghanistan.

The FBI disclosed Wednesday that agents arrested NSA contractor Harold Martin III, an employee like Snowden of Booz Allen Hamilton, in August on charges of removing thousands of pages of classified documents from his workplace to his home. The raid reportedly turned up hundreds of thumb drives, plus hard drives, dozens of computers and enough servers to create his own “server farm” and operate his own “cloud.”

The FBI is probing whether Mr. Martin disclosed highly classified computer code developed by the NSA to hack into the networks of foreign governments.

The White House insisted Thursday that its crackdown on leaks has not been a failure.

“The administration does take quite seriously the need to protect sensitive national security information,” Mr. Earnest said.

He said modern technology is partly to blame for the cases of leaked secrets.

“There’s an up-side that technology can be used to ensure that national security information can be quickly, instantaneously shared across the federal government in a way that keeps our men and women in uniform safe; in a way that aids terrorism investigations being conducted by the United States and our allies around the world; and in a way that protects the United States homeland,” Mr. Earnest said. “The downside risk of this technology is that those with bad intentions can, on an unprecedented scale, disseminate that information. And unfortunately that has harmful consequences.”

An executive at Booz Allen said the company is cooperating with authorities, and fired its employee.

“When Booz Allen learned of the arrest of one of its employees by the FBI, we immediately reached out to the authorities to offer our total cooperation in their investigation, and we fired the employee,” said Craig Veith, vice president of external relations. “We continue to cooperate fully with the government on its investigation into this serious matter. The alleged conduct does not reflect our core values. Our employees continue to support critical client missions with dedication and excellence each day. Their professionalism, values and ethics are what define our firm.”

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