The National Security Agency says it has not been able to find a single recorded case where former contractor Edward Snowen raised complaints about the agency’s operations.
The claim, revealed in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from investigative reporter Jason Leopold, undercuts Snowden’s claim that he raised concerns with his superiors before leaking top-secret spy agency documents to the press.
Critics of Snowden say that his seeming decision to take top-secret documents to the press before raising concerns with his NSA bosses refutes supporters’ claims that he is a whistleblower trying to expose an over-aggressive government.
Snowden has repeatedly claimed that he went to the NSA first and that, in fact, the agency has records of him raising internal complaints.
“The NSA has records. They have copies of emails right now to their Office of General Counsel, to their oversight and compliance folks, from me raising concerns about the NSA’s interpretations of its legal authorities,” he said in an interview with NBC last month.
So far, however, evidence released by the NSA has not backed that up.
The agency released one email Snowden sent to the general counsel’s office last April, but that message seemed to be little more than a request for clarification about recent training.
After a mandatory training course about rules against collecting information on Americans, Snowden questioned whether the course’s statement that executive orders have the same power as federal law and asked whether Defense Department or Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) directives had greater precedence.
“Can you please clarify?” he asked.
In response, an NSA lawyer told Snowden that executive orders have the “force and effect of law” and that both Pentagon and ODNI regulations “are afforded similar precedence.”