Michael Kelley Mar. 24, 2014 REUTERS
The revelation reportedly has the White House “very nervous,” especially because it’s unclear how the Kremlin hid its plans from the National Security Agency’s snooping on digital and electronic communications.
In July, primary Snowden source Glenn Greenwald told The Associated Press that Snowden “is in possession of literally thousands of documents that contain very specific blueprints that would allow somebody who read them to know exactly how the NSA does what it does, which would in turn allow them to evade that surveillance or replicate it.”
So it’s either a coincidence that the Russians figured out how to evade NSA surveillance while hosting the NSA-trained hacker, or else it implies that Snowden may have provided the Russians with access to NSA files.
Snowden told James Risen of The New York Times that he gave all of the classified documents he had taken from the NSA’s internal systems to the journalists he met in Hong Kong and kept no copies himself. However — as Greenwald’s statement in July shows — there are clear issues with that claim, and it is still unknown when he gave up access to the cache.
It is also unclear how many documents Snowden ended up taking — officials say he accessed 1.7 million files — or whether the “vast majority” of the intel he took is related to military operations (as opposed to strictly surveillance).
One official told The Wall Street Journal that the Russian camouflage in Ukraine situation is “uncharted territory,” and that a primary concern now is the question of whether Russia could cloak their next move by shielding more communications from the U.S.
Snowden’s detractors seem to have made up their minds about how Russia learned to evade the NSA leading up to and during the invasion of Crimea.
Joshua Foust, who has been critical of Snowden and his supporters from early on, had this to say:
And here’s former NSA analyst and prominent Snowden critic John Schindler, who wrote a post titled “Snowden and Coincidences” in November:
Schindler, who has been asserting that Snowden is “very likely an agent of Russian intelligence” for months, then pointed out that the proof of such deception would not be immediately clear.