Most people who follow me know I’m not exactly a fan of Edward Snowden. Many of his supporters simply focus on the fact that he shed light on some rather questionable practices being carried about the NSA as it pertains to collecting the personal information of Americans, but I’ve never been convinced that stealing 1.7 million documents while fleeing to China and Russia are the characteristics of a “patriot” or someone we should admire.
Besides, Snowden stole and released a hell a lot of more information than just that which pertained to the Constitutional rights of Americans. He released scores of information pertaining to how we track terrorists, how other countries conduct their intelligence gathering and even tried to use some of this information to get asylum in Brazil by offering intel concerning how the U.S. has spied on Brazilian citizens.
Those are the actions of a traitor – not a patriot.
Well, new information seems to indicate both China and Russia have decrypted some of the information he stole, either thanks to Snowden’s sloppy handling of the intelligence – or with his help. This has prompted officials in the U.K. and the U.S. to move intelligence agents out of fear that their lives were now in jeopardy.
The government source said the information obtained by Russia and China meant that “knowledge of how we operate” had stopped the UK getting “vital information”.
BBC political correspondent Chris Mason said the problem for UK authorities was not only the “direct consequence” that agents had been moved, but also the “opportunity cost” of those agents no longer being in locations where they were doing useful work.
Senior government sources confirmed that China had also cracked the encrypted documents, which contain details of secret intelligence techniques and information that could allow British and American spies to be identified.
Keep in mind, this all follows Snowden’s repeated promises over the years that Russia, China or even the U.S. couldn’t break his encryption.
“Well, we are told authoritatively by people in Downing Street, in the Home Office, in the intelligence services that the Russians and the Chinese have all this information and as a result of that our spies are having to pull people out of the field because their lives are in danger,” said Tim Shipman, who co-wrote the Sunday Times story that originally broke this information.
But it still begs the question, how would China and Russia (the only two countries Snowden has been to since he left the U.S.) have obtained the information?
A source within the British intelligence agency seems to have an idea, telling The Guardian, “Putin didn’t give him asylum for nothing. His documents were encrypted but they weren’t completely secure and we have now seen our agents and assets being targeted.”
They also went on to say that both Russia and China will be going through this information for “years to come.”
But this source said what I’ve felt from the very beginning. That is, I can’t imagine Vladimir Putin letting someone who stole that many documents pertaining to U.S. intelligence into his country to stay in his country, seemingly indefinitely, without expecting something in return.
And this story seems to confirm that. Whether it was because of Snowden’s own incompetence, or because he just outright turned over some of the information, both Russia and China obtained stolen sensitive intelligence that jeopardized the safety of U.S. and U.K. operatives.
While there’s still plenty of information that I’m sure we’ll find out about this in the coming days or weeks, all of this just solidifies my belief that Snowden is someone who should be viewed as a criminal who betrayed his country.
Because whether Snowden outright gave this intelligence to Russia and China, or his incompetence led to them obtaining and decrypting it, he is the reason why Russia and China now have an unknown amount of sensitive documents that weaken our national defense and put lives in danger.
And his supporters can try to spin this however they like (and I’m sure they will), but that doesn’t change the fact that because of him, classified information that has nothing to do with the Constitutional rights of Americans is now in the hands of the Russians and the Chinese.
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