Was it luck that Snowden landed in Russia and gain asylum or did he have help from Russian Intelligence? asks Mike Rogers, a Republican representative from Michigan on Sunday’s NBC’s Meet the Press, according to the Guardian today.
Mike Rogers, House Intelligence Committee Chairman, said Snowden was ‘a thief whom we believe had some help’, and added that there was an ‘ongoing’ investigation into whether Russia had aided Snowden.
‘I believe there’s a question to be answered there,’ Rogers said. ‘I don't think it was a gee-whiz luck event that he ended up in Moscow under the handling of the [Russian intelligence service] FSB.’
Rogers added: ‘Let me just say this. I believe there’s a reason he ended up in the hands, the loving arms, of an FSB agent in Moscow. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.’
The Democratic chair of the Senate intelligence committee, Dianne Feinstein, a staunch defender of the NSA’s programs, also spoke to Meet the Press. She said, ‘Snowden had joined the NSA 'with the intent to take as much material down as he possibly could.’
Representative Rogers and Senator Feinstein both noted that Snowden took more than just metadata files on his laptops but matters that related to the government matters that did not relate to privacy issues of the American citizens.
Feinstein said Snowden had joined the NSA ‘with the intent to take as much material down as he possibly could.’ Snowden has admitted that in interviews with the BBC.
Asked if he was aided by the Russians, Feinstein said: ‘He may well have. We don’t know at this stage. But I think to glorify this act is to set a new level of dishonor.’
Rogers' comments were backed by Michael McCaul, chairman of the House committee on homeland security. Speaking from Moscow, the Texas Republican told ABC’s This Week: ‘I believe he [Snowden] was cultivated by a foreign power to do what he did.’
Snowden said there was ‘zero-percent chance’ that Russia had received any documents and that he had handed all his NSA data to journalists from media outlets including the Guardian, before leaving Hong Kong. ‘What would be the unique value of personally carrying another copy of the materials onward?’ he said.
Snowden has consistently denied any involvement with foreign spying agencies and said he leaked the documents because he believed the NSA programs were against the best interests of the US people. But he asked Brazil for asylum and has told them he would give them information about U.S. surveillance on Brazil officials.
Rogers made it a point to state: ‘He was stealing information that had to do with how we operate overseas to collect information to keep Americans safe … and some of the things he did were beyond his technical capabilities.’
Separately, Bruce Riedel, director of the Intelligence Project at the Brookings Institution in Washington and a former CIA official, said Friday that one key question now in the Snowden affair is ‘Is it really Edward Snowden who is doing this, or is there a larger apparatus? I know that many people in the intelligence community… now no longer regard Edward Snowden as a thief or a traitor…. They regard him as a defector who has gone over to a foreign intelligence agency.’
Rogers was also critical of Obama. He told CNN’s State of the Union the president's speech had created more uncertainty in the intelligence community and was potentially dangerous.
‘We really did need a decision on Friday and what we got was lots of uncertainty,’ he said, ‘And just in my conversations over the weekend with intelligence officials that level of uncertainty is already having a bit of an impact on our ability to protect Americans by finding terrorists trying to reach into the United States.’
He added: ‘I just don’t think we want to go to pre-9/11 just because we haven’t had an attack.’
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