Intelligence chief says Snowden leaks created 'perfect storm'

Edward Snowden’s national security leaks have created a “perfect storm” degrading the intelligence community’s capabilities, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Thursday.

Clapper also warned the U.S. “is facing the most diverse set of threats I’ve seen in my 50 years in the intelligence business” as he unveiled the National Intelligence Strategy, a document released every four years that serves to outline priorities for the nation’s 17 intelligence agencies. 

ADVERTISEMENT
Leaks by Snowden have damaged relationships with foreign and corporate stakeholders, restrained budget resources, and resulted in the U.S. halting intelligence collection on certain targets, he argued.

As a result, he said the United States is taking on more risk.

“In many cases, we’ve chosen where we’re taking risk, cutting specific programs, stopping specific collections and declassifying specific documents,” Clapper said. “All of those are good choices, as long as we recognize that we as a nation have to manage the attendant risks.”

The new strategy was written with the notion of preventing further leaks by someone like Snowden, the former government contractor who told the world of U.S. surveillance programs on phone lines and the Internet.

For the first time, it includes seven “Principles of Professional Ethics for the Intelligence Community.” Those tenets — which include “truth,” “lawfulness,” and “integrity” — are intended as a “standard of ethical conduct expected of all intelligence community personnel.”

“I believe, if we keep these in front of us, we can continue the crucial work in support of our senior policy makers while we also increase transparency and protect privacy and civil liberties,” Clapper said.

The document also finds that global power is “becoming more diffuse.”

“New alignments and informal networks, outside of traditional power blocs and national governments, will increasingly have a significant impact in global affairs,” the assessment reads. “Competition for scarce resources such as food, water and energy is growing in importance as an intelligence issue as that competition exacerbates instability, and the constant advancements and globalization of technology will bring both benefits and challenges.”