News / USA

Snowden’s Revelations Bring Changes to US Intelligence Gathering

File - Edward Snowden, who worked as a contract employee at the National Security Agency.
File - Edward Snowden, who worked as a contract employee at the National Security Agency.

For more than a year,  former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden has been living in Russia, having been granted asylum. 

He is wanted in the United States on espionage charges after making public key intelligence documents dealing with the U.S. National Security Agency’s secret surveillance programs.

And amid frosty U.S.-Russia relations over Ukraine, Russia will apparently allow Snowden to stay for a while. 

Russian media disclosed Thursday that Snowden has been granted a three-year residency permit. His lawyer told Russian news agencies that while Snowden has no plans to apply for asylum, he could see Russian citizenship in five years.

The Snowden affair continues to a blight on the Obama administration, analysts say.

Richard Betts, a national security expert at Columbia University, said Snowden released “lots of information about the sorts of metadata the National Security Agency - or NSA - collects for U.S. intelligence, involving the destination of communications and the identities of people around the world who are talking to each other.

"And a lot of information about the procedures that the NSA uses in handling and dealing with that information,” he said.

Bad publicity
 
Betts said that was very bad publicity for the U.S. government “because it had led to the revelation of many intelligence practices that are quite normal for any great power and that many other countries in the world practice themselves, but which can be embarrassing when they are revealed - as we have seen in several cases when intelligence collecting activities in Brazil and Germany have been revealed.”

Ken Gude, with the Center for American Progress, sees Snowden’s documents in a different light.

“He took reportedly up to 1.7 million documents, the overwhelming majority of them have nothing to do with the spying activities of the NSA on Americans or citizens of other countries and much more to do with military communications and the way in which the NSA intercepts the communications of America’s recognized adversaries and enemies,” Gude said.

Criminal charges pending

The U.S. Justice Department has filed criminal charges against Snowden including theft of government property and unauthorized communication of national defense information.

Snowden has consistently said one of the reasons he leaked the documents was to start a discussion about the U.S. government’s secret spying programs.

Analyst Gude said Snowden certainly achieved that.

“Here we are, more than a year on from the first revelations and it’s still a story capturing the attention of the American people, certainly competing with a lot of things going on in the world, but very rarely do stories last as long as this one,”  Gude said. 

“And it is, of course, of great interest to not just Americans, but to people around the world as well,” he added.

Gude and other experts say as a result of the Snowden revelations, the Obama administration has changed the ways it collects intelligence in the United States and abroad.

“Probably the most significant change,” Gude said, “is they’ve put a prohibition on spying on the leaders of allied governments.

"They’ve instituted some changes in how they collect and store information on foreign citizens and the president has changed the way the NSA collects information on Americans,” he said.

There is also legislation before Congress to alter the way the NSA gathers information.

Low profile

As for Snowden, he has kept a low profile in Russia.

“He is kept out of the news media by the Russian authorities except when it is useful to them," he said.

"And it is very clear’ that Russian President Putin and the Russian authorities that are controlling Mr. Snowden while he is in Russia, have been able to use him for their propaganda efforts on numerous occasions,” he added.

Gude said “both domestically and internationally, the presence of Snowden is a real political tool for President Putin as he aims to set Russia up against the United States and the West.” 

Snowden’s Revelations Bring Changes to US Intelligence Gathering
Snowden’s Revelations Bring Changes to US Intelligence Gatheringi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X

 


Andre de Nesnera

Andre de Nesnera is senior analyst at the Voice of America, where he has reported on international affairs for more than three decades. Now serving in Washington D.C., he was previously senior European correspondent based in London, established VOA’s Geneva bureau in 1984 and in 1989 was the first VOA correspondent permanently accredited in the Soviet Union.

You May Like

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Wycliffe from: Nairobi
August 08, 2014 9:17 AM
Russia -Putin will be "very wrong" and picking "the wrong direction" only when takes advantage of Snowden's hooliganism to confront US & THE WEST. A Warnig!


by: Trueman
August 07, 2014 11:54 PM
Edward Snowden's actions are not that of an American citizen.
He has turned his back on the Country of his birth and as such stands alone - sad but true.






In Response

by: Michael Jones from: Richmond, Virginia
August 08, 2014 7:52 AM
Edward Snowden is no whistleblower. He is a traitor to the country in which he once lived and prospered by the protections provided by NSA and other agencies. Rather than express his appreciation, he has sought fame and fortune much in the mode of Aldrich Ames, John Walker, and Robert Hanssen. He is a traitor of the worst sort and has rendered America a weaker country, for which lives will be lost and untold damage has already been accomplished. May Comrade Snowden enjoy Mother Russia.


by: Steve Sonderly from: US
August 07, 2014 1:16 PM
This is a biased way of stating the facts. Snowden is a whistleblower exposing illegal actions of the US government in violation of the 4th Amendment. Perhaps the author should spend as much time reporting on these details as on supposedly stolen military related documents that have not been released to anyone.

Or is Voice of America a mouthpiece for the corruption in the US government? Edward Snowden is a true patriot and should be respected as such.

In Response

by: Jeff from: Monterey, California
August 08, 2014 10:20 AM
That was my first thought, but it is inconsistent with seeking out imperial China and Russia to share the information with. A real whistle blower would not have aligned himself with a country where investigated journalists live in great peril.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid