A lawmaker here has warned that the actions of Edward Snowden, whistleblower and former National Security Agency contractor could have “lethal consequences” for U.S. troops in places like Afghanistan because, he added, “The vast majority of the material was related to the Defence Department.”
Discussing a classified Pentagon report that concluded that Mr. Snowden, now living in Russia with temporary asylum, downloaded 1.7 million intelligence files, Republican and House intelligence Committee Chairman Representative Mike Rogers said, “This report confirms my greatest fears - Snowden's real acts of betrayal place America's military men and women at greater risk.”
Although Mr. Rogers added that Mr. Snowden’s actions could have “lethal consequences for our troops in the field,” the whistleblower’s supporters said that U.S. officials were exaggerating the impact of the disclosures.
Reports quoted American Civil Liberties Union attorney Ben Wizner, an adviser to Mr. Snowden saying, “This is straight from the government's playbook… Remember, the government told the Supreme Court that publication of the Pentagon Papers would cause grave damage to national security. That was not true then, and this report is not true now.”
However, Democrat Dutch Ruppersberger, ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, argued that Mr. Snowden “handed terrorists a copy of our country's playbook and now we are paying the price… We have begun to see terrorists changing their methods because of the leaks and this report indicates that the harm to our country and its citizens will only continue to endure."
The latest furore over Mr. Snowden’s revelations comes on the heels of the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee voting to invite Mr. Snowden to testify on U.S. surveillance, after it emerged last summer that the NSA had monitored the communications of Europeans, including the mobile phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, since 2002.
Since that became known, it appeared that Mr. Obama was seeking to place distance between the White House and allegations that the NSA regularly spied on Washington’s allies and partners, including India, with Spokesperson Jay Carney saying, “The concerns raised by our allies cause us concern too.”