NSA director: The sky isn't falling after Snowden's leaks

The nation's new director of the National Security Agency is downplaying the effects of Edward Snowden's leaks.

In a stark contrast with how his predecessor characterized the damage caused by Snowden, Adm. Michael Rogers said that while terrorist groups have adjusted their operations after Snowden's leaks, it is not causing the sky to fall.

“I have seen groups not only talk about making changes, I have seen them make changes,” Rogers said in an hour-long interview with The New York Times. “You have not heard me as the director say, ‘Oh, my God, the sky is falling.’ I am trying to be very specific and very measured in my characterizations.”

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Rogers took over earlier this year from Gen. Keith Alexander, who said Snowden’s disclosures have done the “greatest damage to our combined nation’ intelligence systems that we have ever suffered.”

The documents Snowden began leaking more than a year ago, Rogers acknowledged, have changed how technology companies work with the NSA.

AT&T, Verizon and social media companies now insist that “you are going to have to compel us” to hand over information, he said.

Rogers said the NSA has slightly calibrated its operations after President Obama directed his administration to curb some of its foreign surveillance.

“There are some specific targets where we’ve been instructed, ‘Hey, don’t collect against them anymore,’ ” he said. He declined to specify how many beyond noting, “Probably more than half a dozen, but not in the hundreds by any means.”

Rogers said there is no guarantee the NSA can prevent a similar internal attack again.

“Am I ever going to sit here and say as the director that with 100 percent certainty no one can compromise our systems from the inside?” he asked. “Nope. Because I don’t believe that in the long run.”

The most important thing the NSA can do, Rogers said, is to “ensure the volume” of data Snowden stole “can’t be stolen again.” 

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