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Top US Officials Say Snowden Leaks Prompted Defense Changes

  • Cindy Saine

Top U.S. intelligence officials say leaks by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden have put members of all branches of the U.S. military and other U.S. personnel abroad at risk, and that the Pentagon has had to make costly changes. The officials testified to a congressional panel about worldwide threats to U.S. national security.

Defense Intelligence Agency Chief Michael Flynn told the House Intelligence Committee that revelations by Edward Snowden, who is now living in Russia, have put the lives of U.S. service members in danger, and that the Pentagon is making adjustments.

"Everything that he touched, we assume that he took, stole," he said. "So we assume the worst case in how we are reviewing all of the Defense Department's actions, events, exercises around the world."

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper again called on Snowden and anyone who is helping him to return all stolen documents that have not yet been published.

Clapper and the National Security Agency are under fire for monitoring the communications of U.S. friends and allies, as well as those of U.S. enemies, with a sweeping eavesdropping program -- the scope of which was disclosed to the media by Snowden.

The NSA has been criticized for collecting vast amounts of metadata from the telephone calls of American citizens, information that could be mined to trace potential security threats.

At Tuesday's hearing, several lawmakers asked about threats to the Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.

"There are a number of specific threats of varying degrees of credibility that we are tracking," said Matthew Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center. "This is what we expected, it is what we saw in the run-up to prior Olympic Games and prior events like these."

Olsen characterized as "good" the cooperation with Russian intelligence services on countering threats to the Games.