NSA leaker Edward Snowden has published a memoir called “Permanent Record.”
I’ve not read his book and I probably won’t.
I recall the late conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer on Fox News criticizing Mr. Snowden’s video appearance live from Russia to a conference in America in 2014. He was offended particularly by Mr. Snowden’s several references to the U.S. Constitution.
“I don’t want to be lectured by a traitor who speaks from a land that doesn’t have a constitution,” Krauthammer said.
Like Krauthammer, I don’t want to be lectured by Mr. Snowden, and I don’t think I would glean any insights from a self-aggrandizing book by this liar, fraud, sneak thief and traitor.
The former CIA employee and NSA contractor stole and subsequently released to journalists in 2013 more than 1.5 million classified documents. The broad and largely unfiltered intel dump endangered American lives worldwide, and he no doubt gave much more damaging material to his hosts and protectors, the Chinese and the Russians.
Rather than reading Mr. Snowden’s suspect memoir, I reread the 2016 House Intelligence Committee’s bipartisan and unclassified report, “Review of the Unauthorized Disclosures of Former National Security Agency Contractor Edward Snowden.”
According to the report’s executive summary, Edward Snowden perpetrated the largest and most damaging public release of classified information in U.S. intelligence history. In August 2014, the chairman and ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence directed committee staff to carry out a comprehensive review of the unauthorized disclosures.
The two-year extensive review offered a number of unclassified findings. According to the report, “these findings demonstrate that the public narrative popularized by Snowden and his allies is rife with falsehoods, exaggerations, and crucial omissions, a pattern that began before he stole 1.5 million sensitive documents.
“Snowden caused tremendous damage to national security, and the vast majority of the documents he stole have nothing to do with programs impacting individual privacy interests — they instead pertain to military, defense, and intelligence programs of great interest to America’s adversaries,” the report stated.
The review also stated that the secret materials Mr. Snowden handed over protected American troops overseas and provided vital defenses against terrorists and nation-states. The report also states that Mr. Snowden’s disclosures diminished the intelligence community’s capabilities to collect information against legitimate foreign intelligence targets, while others resulted in the loss of intelligence streams that had saved American lives.
“Snowden insists he has not shared the full cache of 1.5 million classified documents with anyone,” the report stated. “However, in June 2016, the deputy chairman of the Russian parliament’s defense and security committee publicly conceded that ‘Snowden did share intelligence’ with his government.”
Mr. Snowden’s public disclosures are available to America’s adversaries, including Russia, China, Iran, North Korean and terrorist organizations via the Internet.
As for Mr. Snowden’s shady character, the report noted that he infringed on the privacy of thousands of government employees and contractors, and he obtained his co-worker’s security credentials through deceit and abused his access as a systems administrator to search his co-worker’s personal drives.
The report further states that before Mr. Snowden began his mass downloads, he was reprimanded for engaging in workplace disputes with NSA managers and was repeatedly counseled about his behavior at work. This evidence points to his motivation as an ego-driven, disgruntled worker rather than a principled whistleblower. And the report flat-out states that Mr. Snowden was not a whistleblower, as by law, publicly revealing classified information does not qualify someone as a whistleblower.
Contrary to his public claims that he notified numerous NSA officials about what he believed to be illegal intelligence collection, the report notes that there is no evidence that Mr. Snowden took any official effort to report any legal or moral concerns to any U.S. government oversight officials.
“Snowden was, and remains, a serial exaggerator and fabricator,“ the report concluded. “A close review of Snowden’s official employment records and submissions reveals a pattern of intentional lying. He claimed to have left Army basic training because of broken legs when in fact he washed out because of shin splints. He claimed to have obtained a high school degree equivalent when in fact he never did. He claimed to have worked for the CIA as a ‘senior advisor,’ which was a gross exaggeration of his entry-level duties as a computer technician. He also doctored his performance evaluations and obtained new positions at NSA by exaggerating his resume and stealing the answers to an employment test. In May 2013, Snowden informed his supervisor that he would be out of the office to receive treatment for worsening epilepsy. In reality, he was on his way to Hong Kong with stolen secrets.”
In my view, Edward Snowden’s true permanent record is one of lies, betrayal and aid and comfort to totalitarian regimes and terrorist organizations.
• Paul Davis covers crime, espionage and terrorism.