Panel report: Snowden no hero but ‘liar’
House committee chair calls him ‘traitor’
WASHINGTON — Edward Snowden exaggerated his resume, stole test answers and failed training on U.S. surveillance law before he copied an estimated 1.5 million classified documents from the National Security Agency, according to a summary of a House Intelligence Committee report released Thursday.
The committee unanimously adopted the investigative report a day before Oliver Stone’s “Snowden” premieres in movie theaters. The film apparently portrays the former NSA contractor as a heroic whistle blower.
Civil liberties advocates have launched a national publicity campaign calling on President Barack Obama to pardon Snowden, whohas been accused of espionage, before he leaves office.
Committee members also sent a bipartisan letter to Obama urging him not to pardon Snowden.
The House report provides new details about Snowden’s background, calls into question his self-declared motivations and his work at the NSA before he fled to China and then Russia, where he now lives.
It describes him as a “serial liar and fabricator.”
“Contrary to Snowden’s self-portrayal as a principled whistle blower,” the committee said in a statement, he was “a disgruntled employee who had frequent conflicts with his managers and was reprimanded” shortly before he began downloading the trove of NSA documents.
Release of the digital documents to media groups in 2013 “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,” the committee said.
The release also led to a public debate about U.S. intelligence powers, and new Edward Snowden speaks via satellite from Russia during a Wednesday news conference. restrictions on how far the NSAcan go in surveillance of U.S. citizens.
Committee members said their two-year investigation found most of the files Snowden took had no civil liberties concerns, but instead revealed spying programs against adversaries and allied governments.
“Edward Snowden is no hero — he’s a traitor who willfully betrayed his colleagues and his country,” Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., the committee chairman, said in a statement. “In light of his long list of exaggerations and outright fabrications detailed in this report, no one should take him at his word.”
Rep. Adam Schiff, D- Calif., ranking memberofthe committee, said the investigation found that Snowden’s claims that he acted to defend Americans’ privacy were “self serving and false” and that he did “profound” damage to national security. “While those disclosures did spark a useful public debate, the collateral damage has been extraordinary,” Schiff said.
The 36-page investigative report remains classified, but a three-page summary released by the committee shows that Snowden failed an internal training for NSA employees on Section 702 of surveillance law that targets foreign internet traffic. Part of that training, lawmakers concluded, included privacy provisions in place to protect U.S. citizens from data collected inadvertently while the NSA vacuumed up online data.
Snowden has lived as a fugitive in Russia since June 2013.
Intelligence officials have said that material he leaked helped Russia and China protect themselves from U.S. surveillance and taught terrorist groups such as Islamic State to better hide their tracks.
The report is based on hundreds of secret documents and dozens of briefings with intelligence officials. The committee concluded that Snowden is not a whistle blower because he did not attempt to raise his