In June 2013, The Guardian revealed that, according to documents leaked by Edward Snowden, the NSA had intercepted the communications of then-Russian president Dmitry Medvedev. According to the classified document — “Russian Leadership Communications in support of President Dmitry Medvedev at the G20 summit in London — Intercept at Menwith Hill station” — the NSA had discovered “a change in the way Russian leadership signals have been normally transmitted.”
In other words, the documents Snowden stole (yes, that is the correct word) from the United States government contained highly classified intelligence detailing the NSA’s collection capabilities against the Russian presidency – information that is now in Moscow’s hands.
Fast forward to this morning. The front page of the Wall Street Journal reports:
U.S. military satellites spied Russian troops amassing within striking distance of Crimea last month. But intelligence analysts were surprised because they hadn’t intercepted any telltale communications where Russian leaders, military commanders or soldiers discussed plans to invade.
America’s vaunted global surveillance is a vital tool for U.S. intelligence services, especially as an early-warning system and as a way to corroborate other evidence. In Crimea, though, U.S. intelligence officials are concluding that Russian planners might have gotten a jump on the West by evading U.S. eavesdropping….
Some U.S. military and intelligence officials say Russia’s war planners might have used knowledge about the U.S.’s usual surveillance techniques to change communication methods about the looming invasion. U.S. officials haven’t determined how Russia hid its military plans from U.S. eavesdropping equipment that picks up digital and electronic communications.
Some, like House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, have declared that Snowden is “under the influence of Russian intelligence services.” To what extent he may be actively helping the Russians defeat US collection efforts remains unknown – at least to the general public.
But this much we do know: the secrets he has leaked publicly have aided Russia, by exposing the fact that the NSA had successfully penetrated the communications of the Russian presidency – a revelation which undoubtedly led Russian intelligence to take countermeasures to protect those communications.
That means – whether directly or indirectly – Edward Snowden is helping Vladimir Putin in his unlawful invasion of a sovereign nation. How does that make him a hero, or a champion of civil liberties?
We do not yet know whether Snowden is a stooge, a traitor or both — but he is without question a criminal.