NSA Divided Over Possible Amnesty Deal For Snowden
Peter Edward / 5 years ago
Officials at the National Security Agency are divided over whether to offer amnesty to to espionage suspect Edward Snowden, who is said to have cost the National Security Agency tens of millions of dollars to ensure his presence was removed from their networks. Snowden a former NSA contractor, who has been granted asylum in Russia is said to have stolen 1.7 million classified files and documents from government computers before fleeing the US in June. However law enforcement officials have conceded they may never know the size of his haul.
A senior administration offical with the NSA told The New York Times;
“They’ve spent hundreds and hundreds of man-hours trying to reconstruct everything he (Snowden) has gotten and they still don’t know what he took, I know that seems crazy but everything with this is crazy”
Whether the return of that cache is worth a deal with Snowden is a contentious subject within the NSA, however Rick Ledgett how runs the the NSA task force on assessing the damage from the Snowden leaks says that a amnesty deal is “Worth having a conversation about and that he would need assurances that the remanding data could be secured and that he’s bar for those assurances would be very high”. Ledgett concedes that the opinion is “Not Unanimous” within the agency, with NSA Chief General Keith Alexander comparing amnesty suggestions to a hostage-taker asking for amnesty after killing 10 of 50 hostages. Alexander also goes on to say that ‘People should be held accountable of their actions. Alexander has served as the director of the NSA since 2005 and is expected to stand down next year, said he offered his resignation as a result of the leak, however upon offering his resignation Alexander was told “We don’t see a reason that you should resign, we haven’t found anybody there doing anything wrong”.
During the Task force’s damage assessment the NSA discovered Snowden had some unusual habits, especially when working at home. Apparently Snowden would work on his computer with a hood that covered the computer screen and covered his head and shoulders, so that he could work and his girlfriend could not see what he was doing. One of the task force’s worst fears was that Snowden might have left a bug or virus behind on the NSA’s network, so the agency had to remove all the computers he had access to. This included access to the classified and unclassified networks — including the cables connected to them — at a cost estimated to be in the tens of millions of dollars.
While the NSA has come under attack and scrutiny in the wake of Snowden’s leaks, Alexander said that the NSA’s surveillance activities are necessary to the nations defense. In addition to tracking terrorist activities the NSA has a team monitoring the threat of cyber-attack on the nation’s critical infrastructure, including the financial sector. While a amnesty deal seems unlikely it seems some in the NSA will do anything to get the leaked files and information back, but at what cost.
Thank you CNET for providing us with this information.