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NSA chief: Snowden ‘betrayed the trust and confidence’ of the US

National Security Agency chief Gen. Keith Alexander on Sunday said admitted leaker Edward Snowden had “betrayed the trust and confidence” of the U.S. and vowed to take steps to prevent future disclosures of classified information.

“This is an individual who is not acting, in my opinion, with noble intent,” said Alexander on ABC’s “This Week.”

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His comments came as Hong Kong authorities rejected a U.S. extradition request for Snowden, who left the country and arrived on Sunday in Moscow. Reports suggested that Snowden might seek refuge in a third country, with the website Wikileaks saying they were helping Snowden gain “political asylum” and had provided him with legal advisers. 

In a statement, the Justice Department said they were working with Hong Kong and other foreign entities to resolve the dispute.

Snowden, a former government contractor, has been charged with espionage and theft of government information for revealing secret NSA surveillance programs of phone and internet traffic. 

Alexander said there would be thorough review to determine why Snowden was not stopped sooner and to review the process by which other contractors are given security clearances.

“This is a key issue that we've got to work our way through.  Clearly the system did not work as it should have,” said Alexander. 

“We are now putting in place actions that would give us the ability to track our system administrators, what they're doing, what they're taking, a two-man rule,” he handed. “We've changed the passwords.  But at the end of the day, we have to trust that our people are going to do the right thing.  This is an extremely important mission defending our country.”

Alexander also defended the NSA programs as critical to national security, saying that Snowden’s revelations had caused “irreversible and significant damage to our country.”

Before departing Hong Kong, Snowden also alleged that the U.S. had spied on Chinese nationals. Reports Sunday said Hong Kong had asked the U.S. to respond to those allegations.

Asked if the U.S. had broken any of Hong Kong’s laws and was conducting surveillance on its citizens, Alexander said only that he was confident the NSA was following U.S. laws.

“I'm confident that we're following the laws that our country has in doing what we do.  We have a set of laws that guide how NSA acts; we follow those laws.  We have tremendous oversight by all three portions of the government:  the courts, Congress and the administration,” he said.

“I would tell you, when you look at, on balance, over 50 cases that we've help disrupt terrorist plots and contributed information to those, zero times have we come up with a place where we have failed the public's confidence or Congress' confidence in these -- in these laws,” Alexander added later.

“I think that's pretty good.”

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