The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence today unanimously voted to adopt an investigative report on Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who fled to China and then Russia after stealing 1.5 million classified documents. The result of a two-year inquiry, the report describes Snowden’s background, likely motivations, and methods of theft, as well as the damage done to U.S. national security as a result of his actions.
Contrary to Snowden’s self-portrayal as a principled whistleblower, the report reveals that he was a disgruntled employee who had frequent conflicts with his managers and was reprimanded just two weeks before he began illegally downloading classified documents. Although he claims to have been motivated by privacy concerns, the report finds that Snowden did not voice such concerns to any oversight officials, and his actions infringed on the privacy of thousands of government employees and contractors. Additionally, the vast majority of the documents he stole had no connection to privacy or civil liberties. Furthermore, Snowden’s basic knowledge of NSA programs is thrown into doubt by his failure to pass NSA’s basic annual training on Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Snowden’s actions did severe damage to U.S. national security, compromising the Intelligence Community’s anti-terror efforts and endangering the security of the American people as well as active-duty U.S. troops.
Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes said, “Edward Snowden is no hero – he’s a traitor who willfully betrayed his colleagues and his country. He put our servicemembers and the American people at risk after perceived slights by his superiors. In light of his long list of exaggerations and outright fabrications detailed in this report, no one should take him at his word. I look forward to his eventual return to the United States, where he will face justice for his damaging crimes.”
Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Adam Schiff said, “Snowden has long portrayed himself as a truth-seeking whistleblower whose actions were designed solely to defend privacy, and whose disclosures did no harm to the country’s security. The Committee’s Review—a product of two years of extensive research—shows his claims to be self-serving and false, and the damage done to our national security to be profound. The Review also shows that the Intelligence Community still has much to do to institutionalize post-Snowden reforms to protect the nation’s sources and methods.”
NSA and Cybersecurity Subcommittee Chairman Lynn Westmoreland said, “Edward Snowden made a decision that did more damage to U.S. national security than any other individual in our nation’s history. His actions harmed our relationships around the world, endangered American soldiers in warzones, and reduced our allies’ collective ability to prevent terrorist attacks. Snowden must be prosecuted and he should receive the full punishment afforded by law for his actions. The resolve of those of us who fully understand the nature of the man and the damage he caused will not falter in our quest to bring him to justice.”
NSA and Cybersecurity Subcommittee Ranking Member Jim Himes said, “I appreciate this report and regret only that more of its conclusions cannot be made public. Two things are clear: Snowden stole immense quantities of classified information irrelevant to the important debate on privacy and surveillance, much of which puts at risk our men and women in uniform. Furthermore, this, and Snowden’s flight to our adversaries is inconsistent with the estimable tradition of civil disobedience.”
Although the Intelligence Committee’s 36-page report, which contains 230 footnotes, is classified, it is available to all members of the House of Representatives. An unclassified executive summary is available here.
Separately, all Intelligence Committee members sent a bipartisan letter to President Obama today urging him not to pardon Edward Snowden. The letter is available here.