Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: Fred Kaplan, the Edward R. Murrow press fellow at the Council on Foreign Relation, writes at Slate that if Edward Snowden's stolen trove of beyond-top-secret documents had dealt only with the domestic surveillance by the NSA, then some form of leniency might be worth discussing. But Snowden did much more than that. "Snowden's documents have, so far, furnished stories about the NSA’s interception of email traffic, mobile phone calls, and radio transmissions of Taliban fighters in Pakistan’s northwest territories; about an operation to gauge the loyalties of CIA recruits in Pakistan; about NSA email intercepts to assist intelligence assessments of what’s going on inside Iran; about NSA surveillance of cellphone calls “worldwide,” an effort that 'allows it to look for unknown associates of known intelligence targets by tracking people whose movements intersect.'" Kaplan says the NYT editorial calling on President Obama to grant Snowden “some form of clemency” paints an incomplete picture when it claims that Snowden “stole a trove of highly classified documents after he became disillusioned with the agency’s voraciousness.” In fact, as Snowden himself told the South China Morning Post, he took his job as an NSA contractor, with Booz Allen Hamilton, because he knew that his position would grant him “access to lists of machines all over the world [that] the NSA hacked.” Snowden got himself placed at the NSA’s signals intelligence center in Hawaii says Kaplan for the sole purpose of pilfering extremely classified documents and gained access to his cache of documents by lying to 20 to 25 of his fellow employees to persuade them to give him their logins and passwords, turning them into his unwitting accomplices. "It may be telling that Snowden did not release—or at least the recipients of his cache haven’t yet published—any documents detailing the cyber-operations of any other countries, especially Russia or China, even though he would have had access to the NSA’s after-action reports on the hundreds or thousands of hacking campaigns that they too have mounted over the years," concludes Kaplan. "If it turned out that Snowden did give information to the Russians or Chinese (or if intelligence assessments show that the leaks did substantial damage to national security, something that hasn’t been proved in public), then I’d say all talk of a deal is off—and I assume the Times editorial page would agree."
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