Was Snowden Russia’s pawn? ‘Probably not,’ says new NSA chief


Edward Snowden probably wasn't acting on behalf of Russia or another foreign government when he fled the United States with millions of classified files, according to the head of the National Security Agency.

"Could he have? Possibly. Do I believe that that's the case? Probably not," agency Director Adm. Mike RogersMichael (Mike) Dennis RogersSenate defense bill would authorize spying on Russians engaged in disinformation, hacking To win the new space race, US must abandon clunky, outdated systems Senate panel breaks with House, says Russia sought to help Trump win in 2016 MORE said on Tuesday.

Rogers, who said he did not watch last week's interview with Snowden on NBC, called the former NSA contractor "intelligent" and "articulate" but said he "seemed fairly arrogant to me."

"Clearly he believes in what he's doing," he said at a forum sponsored by Bloomberg. "I won't question it."

The NSA head's description of Snowden's relationship with Russia, the country that offered him asylum after fleeing U.S. espionage charges last summer, is at odds with other government figures.

His predecessor at the NSA, Gen. Keith Alexander, has claimed that Snowden was being "manipulated" by Russia. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) has said signaled that the leaker may have had help from Russian intelligence operations.

But just because he may not have been working with the Russians, the current NSA chief said that his documents may well have fallen into the hands of Russia or China.

"There could well be aspects of that," Rogers said, without elaborating further.

Snowden's critics have said that his leaks have empowered America's enemies and weakened the U.S.'s national security. Instead of going to the press, they say he should have gone through the internal chain of command.

Snowden has claimed that he did indeed go through the proper channels, but an email released by the Obama administration last week showed him merely asking for clarifications about a training he went through.

Those types of emails, Rogers said, are exactly the kinds of questions NSA officials should be asking.

"I tell the workforce, you need to ask if there are things you are uncertain about," he said. "That's the only way this will work."