US lawmakers say Snowden was coached by foreign spy agency
January 20, 2014 2 Comments
By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org
Two American lawmakers with senior positions in Congressional intelligence committees have expressed strong views that American defector Edward Snowden was probably coached by Russian intelligence prior to his defection. Speaking separately on Sunday, the two lawmakers —both Republican— said they suspected that Snowden had “acted in concert” with Russian intelligence in order expose Washington’s worldwide surveillance programs and steal military secrets. Snowden, a former technical expert for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the National Security Agency (NSA), is currently in Russia, where he has been granted political asylum. On Sunday, Mike Rogers, who chairs the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence at the United States House or Representatives, said he was convinced Moscow had “at least in some part something to do” with Snowden’s defection. During separate interviews at NBC’s Meet The Press and CBS’ Face the Nation, Rogers said he thought it highly unlikely that Snowden’s defection was “a gee-whiz luck event”. He added that the former intelligence technician’s arrival in Russia had been likely pre-arranged by the FSB —the Russian Federal Security Service (though he likely meant the SVR, Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, which is responsible for intelligence activities outside the borders of the Russian Federation). The Republican lawmaker said that Snowden’s defection plan, ranging “from how he prepared to leave [to] his route of departure and how quickly [he] ended up in Moscow”, points to involvement by Russian intelligence. Also on Sunday, Republican Congressman Michael McCaul told ABC’s This Week that he did not think “Snowden woke up one day and had the wherewithal to do this all by himself”. The lawmaker, who chairs the US House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security, cautioned that he could not prove definitively that Russia had a role in Snowden’s defection. But he added that he believed the defector “was cultivated” and that “he was helped by others”, as he would not have been “capable of doing everything by himself”. During his interviews, Representative Rogers argued that Snowden’s defection “had nothing to do” with concerns over the privacy of American citizens, and “nothing to do with the NSA program” of surveillance. Rather, the “vast majority” of the classified information stolen by Snowden —and which presumably has yet to be released by him— related to the military capabilities of the US. Asked to comment specifically on Rogers’ views, McCaul told ABC that “given all the evidence I know Mike Rogers has access to, that I’ve seen, […] I don’t think [Snowden] was acting alone”.