British intelligence chiefs blast Snowden leaks

Britain’s intelligence chiefs told parliament on Thursday that documents leaked by Edward Snowden are being “lapped up” by al Qaeda and have put secret operations at risk.

"The leaks from Snowden have been very damaging, they've put our operations at risk," John Sawers, the head of MI6, Britain's foreign intelligence service, told parliament, according to Reuters

"It's clear that our adversaries are rubbing their hands with glee, al Qaeda is lapping it up,” he added.

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The directors of MI5, the FBI’s British counterpart; and the GCHQ, the National Security Agency’s counterpart, also spoke before parliament about the scope of their surveillance programs. 

They said they’re willing to be more transparent about their intelligence-gathering activities while keeping some of their work secret for national security reasons.

It was their first-ever joint public appearance, according to the Reuters report.

GCHQ Director Iain Lobban said there are specific instances where Snowden’s leaks have harmed Britain’s national security.

"We've seen terrorist groups in the Middle East, in Afghanistan and elsewhere in south Asia discussing the revelations in specific terms," he said.

Since June, Snowden — a former National Security Agency contractor — has been leaking classified U.S. government documents to new outlets around the world that detail the NSA’s domestic and international surveillance operations.

Some lawmakers in Washington have blasted the programs, saying they infringe on privacy rights. President Obama has ordered an NSA review.