The anti-Russian propaganda launched into overdrive today with a two-for-one special.
First, the "CrowdStrike" cybersecurity firm run by an anti-Putin Russian Dmitri Alperovitch, alleged that the Russian hacking of the "elections" was similar to Russian hacking of Ukraine artillery units (CrowdStrike was the same company which immediately in the aftermath of the DNC hack also was the "experts" cited by everyone as evidence Putin was responsible for breaching the the Democrats' server).
Then, according to newly declassified portions of a 37 page report by the House Intelligence Committee released on Thursday, it was none other than Edward Snowden - who lives in Russia under a 2013 asylum deal - that was again attacked by the US with accusations the former NSA contractor "had and continues to have contact" with Russian intelligence services. According to the report, the Pentagon found 13 undisclosed "high risk" security issues caused by Snowden's disclosure to media outlets of tens of thousands of the U.S. eavesdropping agency's most sensitive documents.
The report was announced in September, right before the premiere of Oliver Stone’s Snowden movie. Only the highlights were released to the public at the time, and Snowden likewise challenged them. The full report was published on Thursday, after it went through the redaction and declassification process.
If the Chinese or Russians obtained access to materials related to these issues, "American troops will be at greater risk in any future conflict," the report said. "The committee remains concerned that more than three years after the start of the unauthorized disclosures, NSA, and the IC (Intelligence Community) as a whole, have not done enough to minimize the risk of another massive unauthorized disclosure," the report said.
The report further accuses Snowden, whom it accused of being a "serial exaggerator and fabricator” and "poor student", of causing "tremendous damage to national security" by making the information he shared with the public available to "Russian, Chinese, Iranian and North Korean government intelligence services; any terrorist with internet access." As of June 2016, the Pentagon had identified 13 “high-risk issues” among the 1.5 million documents Snowden accessed, the report said, adding that if Russian or Chinese governments had access to eight of those issues – redacted in full – “American troops will be at greater risk in any future conflict.”
The report claimed that Snowden “has had, and continues to have, contact with Russian intelligence services,” and that he “remains a guest of the Kremlin to this day.”
Members of the committee behind the report have said it represented proof that Snowden was not a whistleblower but a traitor who gave intelligence to enemies and put Americans in danger.
Americans “can now get a fuller account of Edward Snowden’s crimes and the reckless disregard he has shown for US national security,” said committee chairman Devin Nunes (R-California).
“Snowden and his defenders claim that he is a whistleblower, but he isn't, as the Committee's review shows,” said ranking member Adam Schiff (D-California). “Most of the material he stole had nothing to do with Americans’ privacy, and its compromise has been of great value to America's adversaries and those who mean to do America harm.”
“This extensive report shows Snowden is no hero, and that he should be brought to justice for his reckless actions,” said NSA and Cybersecurity Subcommittee chairman Lynn Westmoreland (R-Georgia).
According to Reuters, Snowden's lawyer, Ben Wizner, declined to comment on the newly released material but in a Twitter post, Wizner called the newly declassified portions of the report "petulant nonsense."
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However, it was Snowden's own enraged reponse on Twitter that suggested that today's latest attempt to discredit the NSA whistleblower by suggesting he was collaborating with Russia is nothing but the latest true "fake news", whose intention is to further jeopardize US-Russian relations, while using Snowden as the catalyst.
Below is Snowden's full reaction to the piece contained in several dozen tweets which shows that if US politicians had hope they could launch this latest piece of propaganda without a response, they were wrong.
Unsurprising that HPSCI's report is rifled with obvious falsehoods. The only surprise is how accidentally exonerating it is. 1/x— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) December 22, 2016
After three years of investigation and millions of dollars, they can present no evidence of harmful intent, foreign influence, or harm. Wow.— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) December 22, 2016
An indicator of HPSCI's slant is the knowing omission of my strident, well-documented criticisms of Russian policy: https://t.co/rbAUeGZPd7— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) December 22, 2016
Despite this, they claim without evidence I'm in cahoots with Russian intel. Everyone knows this is false, but let's examine their basis:— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) December 22, 2016
A quote from a Russian guy who just this week claimed NATO assassinated Russia's Ambassador. Not kidding: https://t.co/wYuKWyF0bb— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) December 22, 2016
Moreover, Klintsevich states clearly in the audio (which NPR omits from English translation) that he's only speculating ("Ya dumayu sto...")— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) December 22, 2016
This is the standard of evidence the worst claims they level are based on, after three years and millions of dollars. But it goes on.— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) December 22, 2016
Claim: I took a trip to trip to the PRC while in Japan. Never happened -- not even transit. And USG knows this, because of passport control.— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) December 22, 2016
Claim: I went to a hacker conference, met Chinese hackers, then told people at NSA how great China is (seriously?). False and insane.— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) December 22, 2016
Moreover, I never went to any hacker con during my time in government, IIRC. Think my first was HOPE, speaking alongside Ellsberg-- in 2014!— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) December 22, 2016
I could go on forever. It is an endless parade of falsity so unbelievable it comes across as parody. Yet unintentionally exonerating:— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) December 22, 2016
They document me going, again and again -- over years, despite punishments -- to superiors to report complaints of waste, fraud, and abuse.— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) December 22, 2016
They characterize many of the best things I ever did -- standing up for co-workers, reporting XSS vulns in TS/SCI systems -- as wrongs.— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) December 22, 2016
Not one page mentions this journalism won the Pulitzer Prize for Public service, reformed our laws, and changed even the President's mind.— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) December 22, 2016
Yet they argue at length I should have gone to NSA's Inspector General. That he would end these abuses and protect whistleblowers.— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) December 22, 2016
But George Ellard, the NSA Inspector General, was just fired for retaliating against a whistleblower just like me. https://t.co/Udl9YK38XF— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) December 22, 2016
Bottom line: this report's core claims are made without evidence, and are often contrary to both common sense and the public record.— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) December 22, 2016
Final note: HPSCI's report admits I purged and abandoned hard drives rather than risk bringing them through Russia. Glad it's settled.— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) December 22, 2016
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To Snowden's bottom line, we would just add that when one can no longer kill the message, one engages in the next and only other possible step: to slander, discredit and crush the messenger. In the case of Snowden, it means calling him a traitor; in the case of media which does not comply with the implicit regulation of becoming a PR arm for any one given administration, it is quickly branded "fake news", and quietly laws are passed that will allow the government to crack down on what the government arbitrarily finds to be "Russian propaganda", and legally silence anyone who dares to criticize the status quo.
The full House Intelligence Committee report can be found here