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

    Russia Sees Brexit Impact Widespread but Temporary

    Officials, citizens react to Britain’s vote to exit European Union with mix of pleasure, understanding and concern

    Obama Encourages Entrepreneurs to Seek Global Interconnection

    President tells entrepreneurs at global summit at Stanford University to find mentors, push ahead with new ideas on day after Britain voters decide to exit EU

    Video Some US Gun Owners Support Gun Control

    Defying the stereotype, Dave Makings says he'd give up his assault rifle for a comprehensive program to reduce gun violence

    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.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora