Article submitted by guest contributor Ezra Van Auken.
How much is too much and how much is never enough? That’s the question National Security Agency (NSA) contractor, turned whistleblower, Edward Snowden asked himself before withdrawing from the agency in June. Certainly though, Snowden hasn’t fallen short of data leaks, releasing 200,000 documents to media outlets since his feat against government relations began. Of course, it isn’t the end, and officials know this.
Speaking to the NY Times, an anonymous senior official explained, “They’ve spent hundreds and hundreds of man-hours trying to reconstruct everything he has gotten, and they still don’t know all of what he took,” suggesting that the entire situation is crazy. Not only has whistleblower Snowden managed the largest government data leak in American history, but also the 30-year-old has left officials clueless with how much was comprised.
The task force team assembled after the Snowden leaks, believes the NSA leaker is still holding information, not yet leaked. Rick Ledgett, the leader of the task team, says a fear of more leakage is why administration officials are negotiating amnesty in the US for Snowden, if he decides to stop the Snowden storm. Of course, trusting the same administration that you’ve seemingly betrayed might be beyond Snowden at this point.
And the NSA whistleblower hasn’t hesitated when it comes to the disposal of information, at least to exclusive journalists and officials. Taking into consideration every move by Snowden, it’s almost in President Obama’s best interest to neglect Snowden’s amnesty request, if the option arose. Confirming that premise, the White House said last week that Snowden wouldn’t be rewarded with the option of amnesty.
Spokesperson Jay Carney noted, “Mr Snowden has been accused of leaking classified information and he faces felony charges in the US.” Telling reporters that the whistleblower, which is currently living in Russia, should be brought back to the US for due process. While the administration closes its doors to Snowden, it opens up to foreign countries, briefing officials on what Snowden took and allowing a forum to be adopted.
In all, since Snowden’s storm, the Obama administration has repeatedly moved away from transparency of the NSA. With continued push against privacy groups including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the smearing of Snowden and other tactics, Obama’s White House hasn’t been supportive of NSA transparency. In addition to fighting privacy groups, it’s also been the courts.
This past Friday, administration officials tried to pervert a California judge’s ruling on federal, warrantless surveillance. Along with the courtroom mess, the federal government however, did acknowledge their role in warrantless spying since 2001. Arguing in disclosing for information, the government insisted that despite Snowden’s leaks and constant NSA revelations, officials could not provide any more information to the court.
Charlie Savage wrote that officials argued, “Sensitive secrets remained at risk in any courtroom discussion of their details — like whether the plaintiffs were targets of intelligence collection or whether particular telecommunications providers like AT&T and Verizon had helped the agency.” Director of National Intelligent James Clapper explained that giving classified information to plaintiffs could result in security damage.
Clapper knew what came with the declining of information to California’s court, and that was the possibility of no ruling in the end, which for administration officials wouldn’t be a bad trade-off. Even the Justice Dept. worked to dismiss the entire case itself, asking for no ruling on the violation of the First or Fourth Amendments.
Savage summed up, saying, “The plaintiffs have until late January to file a response. Cindy Cohn, the legal director for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is leading one of the cases, called the government’s assertion “very troubling.” She said that despite the Snowden revelations, it was still essentially saying, “We can’t say whether the American people have been spied on by their government.”
Plaintiffs have until January to reply to the federal government’s case.