By Jeremy Herb
Edward Snowden's leaks about National Security Agency programs have put U.S. troops at risk and prompted terrorists to change their tactics, according to a classified Pentagon report.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and ranking member Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Mich.) said that the Pentagon report found a significant portion of the 1.7 million documents Snowden took were related to current U.S. military operations.
“Snowden handed terrorists a copy of our country’s playbook and now we are paying the price, which this report confirms,” Ruppersberger said in a statement. “His actions aligned him with our enemy. 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 Intelligence panel leaders did not provide specifics of how Snowden’s leaks could threaten U.S. forces, or what measures terror groups have taken in response to the leaks.
A committee spokeswoman said the panel could not elaborate because the report was classified.
The statement from the panel leaders — who have been among the biggest defenders of the National Security Agency — is pushing back against NSA critics who have called Snowden a whistle-blower and want him to receive amnesty.
“Though Mr. Snowden and his defenders claim he is only ‘defending civil liberties,’ the truth is that most of the documents Snowden stole concern vital operations of the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force,” Rogers said.
“Snowden handed over great insight to our adversaries, endangering each and every American. Make no mistake, Snowden is no patriot and there is no way to excuse the irreparable harm he caused to America and her allies, and continues to cause.”
The panel said that the Pentagon report found Snowden downloaded 1.7 million files. The lawmakers said that while Snowden’s leaks have focused on the NSA phone and Internet surveillance, he also has considerable information on current U.S. military operations.
They say the report found that Snowden’s leaks has “already tipped off our adversaries to the sources and methods of our defense, and hurt U.S. allies helping us with counter terrorism, cyber crime, human and narcotics trafficking, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.”
Snowden’s leaks have prompted calls for the NSA to curb or stop its sweeping phone data collection, and President Obama is currently mulling changes to the NSA’s surveillance programs in the wake of the disclosures.
Congress is also weighing NSA reforms with several competing bills.
Snowden has been charged with espionage by U.S. authorities, and Obama administration officials have said they aren’t considering granting Snowden amnesty.