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

    Escalation of Media Crackdown in Turkey Heightens Concerns

    Critics see 'a new dark age' as arrests of journalists, closures of media outlets by Erdogan government mount

    Russia Boasts of Troop Buildup on Flank, Draws Flak

    Russian military moves counter to efforts to de-escalate tensions, State Department says

    Video Iraqis Primed to March on Mosul, Foreign Minister Says

    Iraqi FM Ibrahim al-Jaafari tells VOA the campaign will meet optimistic expectations, even though US officials remain cautious

    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.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora