How Snowden Hoodwinked the Government

He got by with a little help from some friends.

National Journal
Dustin Volz
Feb. 13, 2014, 5:35 a.m.

We fi­nally know how Ed­ward Snowden pulled off one of the greatest thefts of clas­si­fied doc­u­ments in gov­ern­ment his­tory. And he had some help.

The former Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Agency con­tract­or was aided by three agency “af­fil­i­ates” in ac­cess­ing and down­load­ing what have come to be known as the Snowden files, ac­cord­ing to a Feb. 10 agency memo first re­por­ted on by NBC News’ Mi­chael Isikoff.

One of the af­fil­i­ates, de­scribed as a ci­vil­ian NSA em­ploy­ee, al­lowed Snowden to use his per­son­al pass­words to ac­cess clas­si­fied in­form­a­tion on a serv­er called NSANet. This em­ploy­ee first told the FBI on June 18—just two weeks after the leaks began—that he let Snowden use his log-in in­form­a­tion and that he knew those cre­den­tials had been denied to the fu­git­ive, who is cur­rently liv­ing in Rus­sia after be­ing gran­ted asylum there last year.

Snowden was then able to cap­ture the em­ploy­ee’s pass­word, which gran­ted him “even great­er ac­cess to clas­si­fied in­form­a­tion.” But the em­ploy­ee “was not aware that Snowden in­ten­ded to un­law­fully dis­close” any of the doc­u­ments, which have been re­vealed in ma­jor pub­lic­a­tions around the world and have ex­posed sweep­ing phone and In­ter­net data col­lec­tion tech­niques em­ployed by the NSA and oth­er coun­tries.

Last month, Snowden par­ti­cip­ated in an on­line chat and was asked wheth­er he stole pass­word in­form­a­tion from any of his col­leagues. Snowden shot back that “I nev­er stole any pass­words, nor did I trick an army of cowork­ers.” He also re­futed a Novem­ber Re­u­ters re­port that said he used the cre­den­tials “un­wit­tingly” provided by his col­leagues when he worked for con­tract­or Booz Al­len Hamilton in Hawaii.

Ad­di­tion­ally, the oth­er two “af­fil­i­ates,” de­scribed as a mem­ber of the mil­it­ary and an­oth­er NSA con­tract­or, were barred from ac­cess­ing agency in­form­a­tion be­gin­ning in Au­gust 2013, ac­cord­ing to the memo writ­ten by Eth­an Bau­man, NSA’s dir­ect­or of le­gis­lat­ive af­fairs. But “fur­ther ac­count­ab­il­ity will be de­term­ined by their in­di­vidu­al em­ploy­er, not the NSA.”

Earli­er this week, James Clap­per, dir­ect­or of na­tion­al in­tel­li­gence, test­i­fied be­fore the Sen­ate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee that Snowden had taken ad­vant­age of a “per­fect storm” of se­cur­ity vul­ner­ab­il­it­ies and that he “was pretty skilled at stay­ing be­low the radar, so what he was do­ing wasn’t vis­ible.”

“Our whole sys­tem is based on per­son­al trust,” an ex­as­per­ated Clap­per said, adding that there were no “mousetraps” in place to guar­an­tee there wouldn’t be an­oth­er Ed­ward Snowden.

The NSA has en­acted tight­er re­stric­tions on when and how agents can ac­cess clas­si­fied doc­u­ments since Snowden’s heist, in­clud­ing a “two-man rule” re­quir­ing two ad­min­is­trat­ors to work jointly when deal­ing with cer­tain files.

What We're Following See More »
WORDS AND PICTURES
White House Looks Back on bin Laden Mission
10 hours ago
WHY WE CARE
NO BATTLE OVER SEATTLE
SCOTUS Won’t Hear Appeal of Minimum-Wage Law
11 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected a sweeping constitutional challenge to Seattle’s minimum wage law, in what could have been a test case for future legal attacks on similar measures across the country. In a one-line order, the justices declined to hear a case by the International Franchise Association and a group of Seattle franchisees, which had said in court papers that the city’s gradual wage increase to $15 discriminates against them in a way that violates the Constitution’s commerce clause."

Source:
DOWN TO THE WIRE
Sanders Looks to Right the Ship in Indiana
12 hours ago
THE LATEST

Hillary Clinton may have the Democratic nomination sewn up, but Bernie Sanders apparently isn't buying it. Buoyed by a poll showing them in a "virtual tie," Sanders is "holding three rallies on the final day before the state primary and hoping to pull off a win after a tough week of election losses and campaign layoffs." 

Source:
‘SPOOKED’ IN NORTH DAKOTA
Cruz Delegates Having Second Thoughts?
16 hours ago
THE LATEST

As unbound delegates pledged to Ted Cruz watch him "struggle to tread water in a primary increasingly dominated by Trump, many of them, wary of a bitter convention battle that could rend the party at its seams, are rethinking their commitment to the Texas senator."

Source:
MORE PRESSURE ON CONGRESS TO ACT
Puerto Rico to Default on Payment Today
16 hours ago
THE LATEST

"The confrontation between debt-swamped Puerto Rico and its creditors is intensifying as the U.S. territory will default on payments due Monday, deepening the island's financial crisis and placing additional pressure on Congress to intervene." The amount of the default is estimated at $422 million.

Source:
×