Category Archives: CRYPTOME

TOP SECRET Congressional Snowden Report

Date: Thu, 22 Dec 2016 10:36:57 -0500
From: “James M. Atkinson” <jmatk[at]tscm.com>
To: TSCM-L Professionals List <tscm-l2006[at]googlegroups.com>
Subject: Congressional Snowden Report

Please see the attached declassified document

https://cryptome.org/2016/12/congress-snowden-report.pdf

as well as the text snipping included as text in this message. It is wise for a TSCM, CyberSecurity, CyberOperations, TEMPEST, or related counter-intelligence, IC specialists to study this report, because it will allow them to spot other spies in thier workplace, and to detect behaviors and equipment usage patterns that will result in the capture of the spy.

I took the PDF document, and performed a text recognition on it, and then copy and pasted that text into this document (the document actually is unclassifed and redacted, to please see the originl attached PDF file).

-jma

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(U) Review of the Unauthorized Disclosures of
Former National Security Agency Contractor
Edward Snowden
September 15, 2016
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(U) Executive Summary
(U) In June 2013, former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden
perpetrated the largest and most damaging public release of classified information in U.S.
intelligence history. In August 2014, the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House
Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) directed Committee staff to carry out a
comprehensive review of the unauthorized disclosures. The aim of the review was to allow the
Committee to explain to other Members of Congress-and, where possible, the American
people-how this breach occurred, what the U.S. Government knows about the man who
committed it, and whether the security shortfalls it highlighted had been remedied.
(U) Over the next two years, Committee staff requested hundreds of documents from the
Intelligence Community (IC), participated in dozens of briefings and meetings with IC
personnel, conducted several interviews with key individuals with knowledge of Snowden’s
background and actions, and traveled to NSA Hawaii to visit Snowden’s last two work locations.
The review focused on Snowden’s background, how he was able to remove more than 1.5
million classified documents from secure NSA networks, what the 1.5 million documents
contained, and the damage their removal caused to national security.
(U) The Committee’s review was careful not to disturb any criminal investigation or
future prosecution of Snowden, who has remained in Russia since he fled there on June 23, 2013.
Accordingly, the Committee did not interview individuals whom the Department of Justice
identified as possible witnesses at Snowden’s trial, including Snowden himself, nor did the
Committee request any matters that may have occurred before a grand jury. Instead, the IC
provided the Committee with access to other individuals who possessed substantively similar
knowledge as the possible witnesses. Similarly, rather than interview Snowden’s NSA coworkers
and supervisors directly, Committee staff interviewed IC personnel who had reviewed
reports of interviews with Snowden’s co-workers and supervisors. The Committee remains
hopeful that Snowden will return to the United States to face justice.
(U) The bulk of the Committee’s 37-page review, which includes 237 footnotes, must
remain classified to avoid causing further harm to national security; however, the Committee has
made a number of unclassified findings. These findings demonstrate that the public narrative
popularized by Snowden and his allies is rife with falsehoods, exaggerations, and crucial
omissions, a pattern that began before he stole 1.5 million sensitive documents.
(U) First, Snowden caused tremendous damage to national security, and the vast
majority of the documents he stole have nothing to do with programs impacting individual
privacy interests-they instead pertain to military, defense, and intelligence programs of
great interest to America’s adversaries. A review of the materials Snowden compromised
makes clear that he handed over secrets that protect American troops overseas and secrets that
provide vital defenses against terrorists and nation-states. Some of Snowden’s disclosures
exacerbated and accelerated existing trends that diminished the IC’s capabilities to collect
against legitimate foreign intelligence targets, while others resulted in the loss of intelligence
streams that had saved American lives. Snowden insists he has not shared the full cache of 1.5
million classified documents with anyone; however, in June 2016, the deputy chairman of the
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Russian parliament’s defense and security committee publicly conceded that “Snowden did share
intelligence” with his government. Additionally, although Snowden’s professed objective may
have been to inform the general public, the information he released is also available to Russian,
Chinese, Iranian, and North Korean government intelligence services; any terrorist with Internet
access; and many others who wish to do harm to the United States.
(U) The full scope of the damage inflicted by Snowden remains unknown. Over the past
three years, the IC and the Department of Defense (DOD) have carried out separate reviewswith
differing methodologies-of the damage Snowden caused. Out of an abundance of caution,
DOD reviewed all 1.5 million documents Snowden removed. The IC, by contrast, has carried
out a damage assessment for only a small subset of the documents. The Committee is concerned
that the IC does not plan to assess the damage of the vast majority of documents Snowden
removed. Nevertheless, even by a conservative estimate, the U.S. Government has spent
hundreds of millions of dollars, and will eventually spend billions, to attempt to mitigate the
damage Snowden caused. These dollars would have been better spent on combating America’s
adversaries in an increasingly dangerous world.
(U) Second, Snowden was not a whistleblower. Under the law, publicly revealing
classified information does not qualify someone as a whistleblower. However, disclosing
classified information that shows fraud, waste, abuse, or other illegal activity to the appropriate
law enforcement or oversight personnel-including to Congress–does make someone a
whistleblower and affords them with critical protections. Contrary to his public claims that he
notified numerous NSA officials about what he believed to be illegal intelligence collection, the
Committee found no evidence that Snowden took any official effort to express concerns about
U.S. intelligence activities-legal, moral, or otherwise-to any oversight officials within the
U.S. Government, despite numerous avenues for him to do so. Snowden was aware of these
avenues. His only attempt to contact an NSA attorney revolved around a question about the
legal precedence of executive orders, and his only contact to the Central Intelligence Agency
(CIA) Inspector General (IO) revolved around his disagreements with his managers about
training and retention of information technology specialists.
(U) Despite Snowden’s later public claim that he would have faced retribution for
voicing concerns about intelligence activities, the Committee found that laws and regulations in
effect at the time of Snowden’s actions afforded him protection. The Committee routinely
receives disclosures from IC contractors pursuant to the Intelligence Community Whistleblower
Protection Act of 1998 (IC WP A). If Snowden had been worried about possible retaliation for
voicing concerns about NSA activities, he could have made a disclosure to the Committee. He
did not. Nor did Snowden remain in the United States to face the legal consequences of his
actions, contrary to the tradition of civil disobedience he professes to embrace. Instead, he fled to
China and Russia, two countries whose governments place scant value on their citizens’ privacy
or civil liberties-and whose intelligence services aggressively collect information on both the
United States and their own citizens.
(U) To gather the files he took with him when he left the country for Hong Kong,
Snowden infringed on the privacy of thousands of government employees and contractors. He
obtained his colleagues’ security credentials through misleading means, abused his access as a
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systems administrator to search his co-workers’ personal drives, and removed the personally
identifiable information of thousands ofIC employees and contractors. From Hong Kong he
went to Russia, where he remains a guest of the Kremlin to this day.
(U) It is also not clear Snowden understood the numerous privacy protections that govern
the activities of the IC. He failed basic annual training for NSA employees on Section 702 of the
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and complained the training was rigged to be
overly difficult. This training included explanations of the privacy protections related to the
PRISM program that Snowden would later disclose.
(U) Third, two weeks before Snowden began mass downloads of classified
documents, he was reprimanded after engaging in a workplace spat with NSA managers.
Snowden was repeatedly counseled by his managers regarding his behavior at work. For
example, in June 2012, Snowden became involved in a fiery e-mail argument with a supervisor
about how computer updates should be managed. Snowden added an NSA senior executive
several levels above the supervisor to the e-mail thread, an action that earned him a swift
reprimand from his contracting officer for failing to follow the proper protocol for raising
grievances through the chain of command. Two weeks later, Snowden began his mass
downloads of classified information from NSA networks. Despite Snowden’s later claim that the
March 2013 congressional testimony of Director of National Intelligence James Clapper was a
“breaking point” for him, these mass downloads predated Director Clapper’s testimony by eight
months.
(U) Fourth, Snowden was, and remains, a serial exaggerator and fabricator. A close
review of Snowden’s official employment records and submissions reveals a pattern of
intentional lying. He claimed to have left Army basic training because of broken legs when in
fact he washed out because of shin splints. He claimed to have obtained a high school degree
equivalent when in fact he never did. He claimed to have worked for the CIA as a “senior
advisor,” which was a gross exaggeration of his entry-level duties as a computer technician. He
also doctored his performance evaluations and obtained new positions at NSA by exaggerating
his resume and stealing the answers to an employment test. In May 2013, Snowden informed his
supervisor that he would be out of the office to receive treatment for worsening epilepsy. In
reality, he was on his way to Hong Kong with stolen secrets.
(U) Finally, the Committee remains concerned that more than three years after the
start of the unauthorized disclosures, NSA, and the IC as a whole, have not done enough to
minimize the risk of another massive unauthorized disclosure. Although it is impossible to
reduce the chance of another Snowden to zero, more work can and should be done to improve
the security of the people and computer networks that keep America’s most closely held secrets.
For instance, a recent DOD Inspector General report directed by the Committee found that NSA
has yet to effectively implement its post-Snowden security improvements. The Committee has
taken actions to improve IC information security in the Intelligence Authorization Acts for Fiscal
Years 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017, and looks forward to working with the IC to continue to
improve security.
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Table of Contents
Executi.v e su mmary …………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 1.
Scope and Methodology ………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 1
Early Life ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 1
CIA Employment ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 3
Transition to NSA Contractor …………………………………………………………………………………………… 6
NSA Hawaii – Contract Systems Administrator …………………………………………………………………. 8
Snowden’ s Downloading and Removal Process ……………………………………………………………….. 10
NSA Hawaii – Gaining More Access and Departing for China and Russia …………………………… 14
Communications with Intelligence Oversight Personnel.. …………………………………………………… 16
Was Snowden a Whistleblower? …………………………………………………………………………………….. 18
Foreign Influence ………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 19
What Did Snowden Take? ……………………………………………………………………………………………… 20
What Damage Did Snowden Cause? ……………………………………………………………………………….. 22
How Has the IC Recovered from Snowden? …………………………………………………………………….. 28
Conclusion – Efforts to Improve Security ………………………………………………………………………… 30
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(U) Scope and Methodology
(U) Since June 2013, the unauthorized disclosures of former NSA contractor Edward
Snowden and the impact of these disclosures on the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) have been
a subject of continual Committee oversight. The Committee held an open hearing on the
disclosures on June 18, 2013, and, over the next year, held eight additional hearings and
briefings, followed by numerous staff-level briefings on Snowden’s disclosures.
(U) In August 2014, then-Chairman Rogers and Ranking Member Ruppersberger
directed Committee staff to begin a review of the actions and motivations of Edward Snowden
related to his removal of more than 1.5 million classified documents from secure NSA networks.
The intent was not to duplicate the damage assessments already under way in the executive
branch; rather, the report would help explain to other Members of Congress-and, where
possible, the American people-how the “most massive and damaging theft of intelligence
information in our history” occurred, 1 what the U.S. Government knows about the man who
perpetrated it, and what damage his actions caused.
(U) Over the next two years, Committee staff requested hundreds of documents from the
IC, participated in dozens of briefings and meetings with IC personnel, and conducted several
interviews with key individuals with knowledge of Snowden’s background and actions, and
traveled to NSA Hawaii to visit Snowden’s last two work locations.
(U) The Committee’s product is a review, not an investigation, largely in deference to
any criminal investigation or future prosecution. Since he arrived in Russia on June 23, 2013,
Snowden has not returned to the United States to face the criminal charges against him.
Accordingly, the Committee did not interview or seek documents from individuals whom the
Department of Justice identified as possible witnesses at Snowden’s trial, including Snowden
himself, nor did the Committee request any matters that may have occurred before a grand jury.
Instead, the IC provided the Committee with access to other individuals who possessed
substantively similar knowledge. Similarly, rather than interview Snowden’s NSA co-workers
and supervisors directly, Committee staff interviewed IC personnel who had reviewed reports of
interviews with Snowden’s co-workers and supervisors.
(U) The Committee’s review has informed numerous congressionally directed actions
and resource allocation decisions in the enacted Intelligence Authorization Acts for Fiscal Years
2014, 2015, and 2016, and in the House-passed Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year
2017.
(U) Early Life
(U) Edward Joseph Snowden was born on June 21, 1983, in Elizabeth City, North
Carolina. His parents, Lon Snowde~, a Coast Guard chief petty officer, and Elizabeth Snowden,
1 Testimony of Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper, HPSCI Worldwide Threats Hearing (Open
Session, Feb. 4, 2014).
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a federal court clerk, moved the family to Annapolis, Maryland, when Edward was a child.2 In
2001, his parents divorced. 3
(U) By his own account, Snowden was a poor student.4 He dropped out of high school in
his sophomore year and began taking classes at the local community college. 5 Snowden hoped
that the classes would allow him to earn a General Education Diploma (GED), but nothing the
Committee found indicates that he did so. To the contrary, on an applicant resume submitted to
NSA in 2012, Snowden indicated that he graduated from “Maryland High School” in 2001;6
earlier, in 2006, Snowden had posted on a public web forum that he did not “have a degree of
ANY type. I don’t even have a high school diploma.” 7
(U) After leaving community college, Snowden eventually enlisted in the Army Reserve
as a special forces recruit. He left after five months, receiving a discharge in September 2004
without finishing training courses. 8 Snowden would later claim he had to leave basic training
because “he broke both his legs in a training accident.” 9 An NSA security official the
Committee interviewed took a different view, telling Committee staff that Snowden was
discharged after suffering from “shin splints,” a common overuse injury. 10
(U) Unable to pursue his preferred military career, Snowden turned to security guard
work. In February 2005, the University of Maryland’s Center for the Advanced Study of
2 “NSA Leaker Edward Snowden Has Ties to North Carolina,” Raleigh News & Observer (Aug. 1, 2013).
3 John M. Broder & Scott Shane, “For Snowden, A Life of Ambition, Despite the Drifting,” New York Times (June
15, 2013).
4 Glenn Greenwald, Ewen MacAskill, and Laura Poitras, “Edward Snowden: the Whistleblower Behind the NSA
Surveillance Revelations,” The Guardian (June 11, 2013), available at
https:/ /www .theguardian.com/world/2013/j un/09/edward-snowden-nsa-whistleblower-surveillance ( accessed June
28, 2016).
5 Matthew Mosk, et al., “TIMELINE: Edward Snowden’s Life As We Know It,” ABC News, (June 13, 2013).
6 See, e.g., Edward Snowden Resume. Regarding “High School Education,” the resume Snowden submitted to
NSA’s Tailored Access Operations unit says as follows: For “Grad/Exit dt,” Snowden wrote “2001-06-21 ;” For his
“School,” Snowden wrote “Maryland High School”; and for “Level Achieved”, Snowden wrote “High School
Graduate.”
7 See supra, note 3. One of Snowden’ s associates claims to have reviewed official educational records that
demonstrate Snowden’s passage ofa high school equivalency test and receipt of high school equivalency diploma in
June 2004. Any receipt of such a diploma in 2004 stands in tension with Snowden’s 2006 claim to not have a
“degree of any type [or] … even a high school diploma”; and with his 2012 resume, which stated that he either left or
graduated from “Maryland High School” in 2001.
8 “What We Know About NSA Leaker Edward Snowden,” NBC News (June 10, 2013), available at
http://usnews.nbcnews.com/ _ news/2013/06/10/18882615-what-we-know-about-nsa-Jeaker-snowden?lite (accessed
June 28, 2016); see also “Edward Snowden Did Enlist For Special Forces, US Army Confirms,” The Guardian
(June 10, 2013), available at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jun/10/edward-snowden-army-special forces
(accessed September 15, 2016).
9 “Edward Snowden Did Enlist For Special Forces, US Army Confirms,” The Guardian (June 10, 2013), available
at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jun/l 0/edward-snowden-army-special forces (accessed September 15,
2016).
10 See supra, note 6. If untreated, shin splints can progress into stress fractures, but the Committee found no
evidence that Snowden was involved in a training accident.
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Language (CASL) sponsored Snowden for a Top Secret security clearance. 11 The investigation
for that clearance turned up only one piece of derogatory information: ~ of
Snowden’s said she did not recommend him for access to classified information. Snowden
sought counseling ~’ and the counselor recommended him for a position
of trust with no reservations. The favorable investigation, combined with a successful
polygraph test, enabled Snowden to work at CASL’s lobby reception desk as a “security
specialist.” He worked there for four months, until he was hired by BAE Systems to work on a
CIA Global Communications Services Contract.
(S//NF) Snowden’s stint as a BAE Systems contractor was similarly short-lived. For less
than a year, he worked as a systems administrator who “managed installations and application
rollouts” in the Washington, DC, area.14 In August 2006, he converted from a contractor to a
CIA employee. As part of that conversion, Snowden went through an “entrance on duty”
s chological evaluation.
(U) CIA Employment
(U) Snowden was not, as he would later claim, a “senior advisor” at CIA. 16 Rather, his
only position as a CIA employee was as a Telecommunications Information Systems Officer, or
TISO. The job description for a TISO makes clear that the position is an entry-level IT support
function, not a senior executive. TISOs “operate, maintain, install, and manage
telecommunications systems,” and “provide project management and systems integration for
voice and data communications systems,” including “support to customers after installation.” 17
Even so, the position may have appealed to Snowden because TISOs “typically spend 60-70% of
their career abroad.” 18
(U) In November 2006–less than three months after starting with CIA-Snowden
contacted the Agency’s Inspector General (IG) seeking “guidance” because he felt he was “being
11 NSA, Edward Snowden Timeline (Sept. 30, 2014). Overall document classified Cl/NF; cited portion classified
U//FOUO.
12 NSA, FBI, and NCSC, “‘Negative Information’ Found in Edward Snowden’s Personnel Security File,” (Sept. 30,
2014). Overall document classified U//FOUO.
13 Id.
14 CIA Office of Security, “Response to HPSCI Staffer Meeting,” (Nov. 18, 2014). Overall document classified
S//NF; cited portion classified S//NF.
is Id.
16 Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald, “NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden: ‘I Don’t Want To Live in a Society
that Does These Sorts of Things,” The Guardian (Jun. 9, 2013), available at
http://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2013/jun/09/nsa-whistleblower-edward-snowden-interview-video
(accessed May 2, 2016).
17 CIA, Careers and Internships, “Telecommunications Information Systems Officer – Entry/Developmental,”
www.cia.gov (Oct. 2, 2015).
is Id.
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unfairly targeted” by his supervisor. 19 After entering on duty, Snowden believed there were
“morale and retention issues” among his fellow TISOs.20 He raised those concerns with his
training supervisor, the chief of the communications training unit, but “felt they were left
unaddressed.” 21 He next tried the chief and deputy chief of his operational group, but was
similarly dissatisfied with their response. 22
(U) Undeterred, Snowden spent the next week surveying the other TISOs who entered on
duty at the same time as him.23 He wrote up his findings and sent them to the CIA’s Strategic
Human Capital Office. Then, instead of attempting to raise his concerns again with his
supervisor or work collaboratively with other TISOs to resolve the concerns, Snowden sent his
concerns to the Deputy Director of CIA for Support-the head of the entire Directorate of
Support and one of the ten most senior executives of CIA.24
(U) In his e-mail, Snowden complained about the process of assigning new TISOs to
overseas locations, the pay of TIS Os compared to contractors who performed similar work, and
the difficulty for TISOs to transfer laterally to other jobs. 25
~ Despite his lack of experience, the 23-year-old Snowden told the Deputy Director he
felt “pretty disenfranchised” because his immediate supervisors did not take his unsolicited
recommendations to heart. 26
(U) Snowden told the IG that, after he contacted the Deputy Director for Support, his
supervisors pulled him in to their offices for unscheduled counseling. In his view, they were
“extremely hostile” and “seem[ ed] to believe I have trouble bonding with my classmates.” 27
Those counseling sessions prompted Snowden to contact the IG to help protect him from
“reprisal for speaking truth to power.”
(U) One day after receiving his complaint, an IG employee responded to Snowden and
,recommended he contact the CIA’s Ombudsman, an official who could help Snowden sort
through the options available to him and mediate disputes between managers and employees. 28
The IG employee also directed Snowden to the relevant Agency regulation regarding the factors
managers could consider when deciding to retain an employee beyond the initial three-year trial
period.29 Whether that response satisfied Snowden is unclear; shortly after receiving it, Snowden
sent another message to the IG employee instructing him to disregard the initial request because
19 E-mail from Snowden to CIA Office of Inspector General (Nov. 2, 2006), Overall document classified S; cited
portion marked U//AIUO.
20 Id. Overall document classified S; cited portion not portion-marked.
21 Id. Overall document classified S; cited portion not portion-marked.
22 Id. Overall document classified S; cited portion not portion-marked.
23 Id. Overall document classified S; cited portion not portion-marked.
24 Id. Overall document classified S; cited portion not portion-marked.
25 Id. Overall document classified S; cited portion not portion-marked.
26 Id. Overall document classified S; cited portion classified C.
27 Id. Overall document classified S; cited portion not portion-marked
28 E-mail from CIA Office oflnspector General to Edward Snowden (Nov. 3, 2006). Overall document classified S;
cited portion classified U//AIUO.
29 Id. Overall document classified S; cited portion classified U//AIUO.
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the issue had been “addressed.” 30 During the rest of his time at CIA, Snowden did not contact
the IG.
f8) After the completion of his training, Snowden was assigned to – in March 2007
for his first TISO assignment. 31 Snowden was, in the words of his supervisor, “an energetic
officer” with a “plethora” of experience on Microsoft operating systems, but he “often does not
positively respond to advice from more senior officers, … does not recognize the chain of
command, often demonstrates a lack of maturity, and does not appear to be embracing the CIA
culture. “32
f8) A few months after starting in_, Snowden asked to apply for a more senior
position in – as a regional communications officer. His supervisor did not endorse his
application. When he was not selected for the position, Snowden responded by starting “a
controversial e-mail exchange with very senior officers” in which he questioned the selection
board’s professionaljudgment. 33 Years later, when characterizing his experience as a CIA TISO,
Snowden would write that he was “specially selected by [CIA’s] Executive Leadership Team for
[a] high-visibility assignment” that “required exceptionally wide responsibility.” 34 The
description is in tension with his supervisor’s account of a junior officer who “needed more
experience before transitioning to such a demanding position. “35
f8) Snowden also modified CIA’s performance review software in connection with his
annual performance review, by manipulating the font. 36 This behavior led to Snowden’s recall
for “professional consultations” with the head of all CIA technical officers in Europe. 37 This was
the first but not the only time more senior CIA officers attempted to correct Snowden’s behavior.
His supervisor in – cataloged six counseling sessions between October 2007 and April
2008, nearly one per month, regarding his behavior at work. 38 In September 2008, Snowden
requested to leave – “short of tour,” that is, before his scheduled rotation date to a new
assignment. 39 The request was denied. Disobeying orders, Snowden traveled back to the
Washington, D.C., area for his and his fiancee’s medical appointments. Because of his
disobedience, Snowden’s supervisors recommended he not return to __ 40
30 E-mail from Snowden to CIA Office oflnspector General (Nov. 3, 2006). Overall document classified S; cited
portion classified U//AIUO.
31 NSA, Edward Snowden Timeline (Sept. 30, 2014); overall document classified C//NF; cited portion classified
Cl/NF.
32 Memorandum for the Record by Senior Telecommunications Officer – Europe, “TISO –Edward
Snowden” (Sept. 4, 2008).
33 CIA Office of Security, “Response to HP SCI Staffer Meeting,” (Nov. 18, 2014).
34 Edward Snowden Resume.
35 Memorandum for the Record by Senior Telecommunications Officer – Europe, “TISO –Edward
Snowden” (Sept. 4, 2008). Overall document classified S//NF; cited portion classified S.
36 Id. Overall document classified S//NF; cited portion classified S.
37 Id. Overall document classified S//NF; cited portion classified S.
38 Memorandum for the Record by Office in Charge, -· “TISO –Edward Snowden” (Dec. 18, 2008).
Overall document classified S//NF; cited portion classified S.
39 Id. Overall document classified S//NF; cited portion classified S.
40 Id. Overall document classified S//NF; cited portion classified S.
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(8//NF) In January 2009, CIA submitted a “fitness for duty” report for Snowden, an
administrative tool to determine whether Snowden had any work-related medical issues.41 The
Agency also assigned him to a ~osition in the Washington, D.C., area so he could be available
for any medical appointments. 4
(8//NF) Several years later, Snowden claimed that, while in_, he had ethical
qualms about working for CIA.43 None of the memoranda for the record detailing his numerous
counseling sessions mention Snowden expressing any concerns about
-· Neither the CIA IG nor any other CIA intelligence oversight official or manager
has a record of Snowden expressing any concerns about the legality or morality of CIA activities.
(U) Transition to NSA Contractor
(C,l/NF) Around the same time that Snowden returned to the D.C. area, he applied for a
position with an NSA contractor, Perot Systems, as a systems administrator. He was still a CIA
employee at the time and his clearance remained in good standing with no derogatory
information.44 On March 25, 2009, Perot Systems sponsored Snowden for employment; six days
later, on March 31, NSA Security checked the Intelligence Community-wide security database,
“Scattered Castles,” to verify Snowden’s clearance.45
(U) Seeing no derogatory information in Scattered Castles, NSA Security approved
Snowden for access eight days later, on April 7.46
(8//NF) On April 16, Snowden formally resigned as a CIA employee. 47 CIA’s Security
Office u dated his Scattered Castles record on April 20,
. Because NSA had checked the
database three weeks earlier, NSA Security did not learn of the – in his record at that
time.49 It is unclear ifNSA Security would have treated Snowden’s onboarding any differently
had NSA been aware of
41 CIA Office of Security, “Response to HPSCI Staffer Meeting,” (Nov. 18, 2014). Overall document classified
SI/NF; cited portion classified SI/NF.
42 Id. Overall document classified SI/NF; cited
43
NSA, Edward Snowden Timeline (Sept. 30, 2014). Overall document classified Cl/NF; cited portion classified
Cl/NF.
45 Id. Overall document classified Cl/NF; cited portion classified UI/FOUO.
46 Id. Overall document classified Cl/NF; cited portion classified UI/FOUO.
47 Id. Overall document classified Cl/NF; cited portion classified Cl/NF.
48 CIA Office of Security, “Response to HPSCI Staffer Meeting,” (Nov. 18, 2014). Overall document classified
SI/NF.
49 NSA, Edward Snowden Time Ii~ 30, 2014 ). Overall document classified Cl INF; cited portion classified
Cl/NF. The alerting function for – in Scattered Castles has since been fixed.
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(U) From May 2009 to February 2012, Snowden worked in a variety of roles supporting
IC contracts for Dell, which had purchased Perot Systems in 2009. He worked as an IT systems
administrator at NSA sites in .. for a little more than a year, where he supported NSA’s
Agency Extended Information Systems Services (AXISS) contracts. 50
(U) One co-worker recalled that while he was working in .. , Snowden traveled to
Thailand to learn how to be a ship’s captain, but never finished the training course. According to
another co-worker, at some point before he was stationed in .. , Snowden took a trip to China
and spoke about his admiration for the Chinese people and Chinese martial arts. 51 The same coworker
remembered Snowden expressing his view that the U.S. government had overreached on
surveillance and that it was illegitimate for the government to obtain data on individuals’
personal computers. 52 There are no indications of how Snowden attempted to square this belief
with his continued employment in support of the foreign signals intelligence mission ofNSA.
(U) Other co-workers from Snowden’s time in 1111rec alled him as someone frustrated
with his lack of access to information. One remembered Snowden complaining how he lacked
access at CIA;53 another recalled him attemptin~ to gain access to information about the war in
Iraq that was outside of his job responsibilities. 4 Although Snowden did not obtain the
information he was looking for, he later claimed it was “typical” of the U.S. government to cover
up embarrassing information. 55
(C//NF) In September 2010, Snowden returned to the United States and Dell attempted to
move him to a position where he would support IT systems at CIA. Because of the ~ in
Scattered Castles, however, CIA refused to grant Snowden access to its information. Dell put
Snowden on leave for three months while waiting for a position that did not require a security
clearance to open up. Eventually, one did: In December 2010, Snowden started work in an
uncleared “systems engineer/pre-sales technical role” for Dell supporting a CIA contract. 57
(U) Snowden was also due for a periodic background reinvestigation in the fall of 2010.
OPM contractor U.S. Information Services completed that review in May 2011, finding no
derogatory information. According to an after-the-fact review by the National
Counterintelligence Executive, the reinvestigation was “incomplete” and “did not present a
complete picture of Mr. Snowden.” 58 Among its other flaws, the investigation never attempted
to verify Snowden’s CIA employment or speak to his CIA supervisors, nor did it attempt to
independently verify Snowden’s self-report of a past security violation-areas where further
so Id. Overall document classified C//NF; cited portion classified U//FOUO.
51 Interview with NSA Atto~(Feb. 8, 2016) (report of interview with-·
52 Id. The same co-worker, -· also mentioned that Snowden considered himself a privacy advocate.
” Interview with NSA Attom,b. 8, 2016) (report of interview with -·
54 Id. (report of interview with .
55 Id. (report of interview with .
56 NSA, Edward Snowden Timeline (Sept. 30, 2014). Overall document classified C//NF; cited portion classified
Cl/NF.
57 Id. Overall document classified C//NF; cited portion classified C//NF.
58 National Counterintelligence Executive, Technical and quality review of the April 2011 Single Scope Background
Investigation- Periodic Reinvestigation on Mr. Snowden,” (Aug. 23, 2013); overall document classified U//FOUO.
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information could have alerted NSA to CIA’s concerns. 59 Contrary to best practices, the
investigation also failed to develop any character references beyond the two people Snowden
himself listed, his mother and his girlfriend. 60
(8) From August 31, 2011, to January 11, 2012, Snowden took a leave of absence from
His Dell co-workers offered conflicting accounts of how he spent his leave, 61
(U) NSA Hawaii – Contract Systems Administrator
(U) Snowden returned from leave in early 2012 and took a position as a general systems
administrator supporting Dell’s AXISS work at NSA’s Hawaii Cryptologic .Center.62 As part of
the change in station, he took a counterintelligence polygraph examination. The first exam was
“inconclusive,” but did not lead to NSA Security developing any further information; the second
was successful. 63 At the end of March 2012, Snowden moved to Hawaii.
(U) The job Snowden performed in Hawaii was similar to his duties during the previous
three years with Dell. He was a field systems administrator, working in technical support office
ofNSA Hawaii. Some of his work involved moving large numbers of files between different
internal Microsoft SharePoint servers for use by other NSA Hawaii employees. Although most
NSA Hawaii staff had moved to a new building at the start of 2012, Snowden and other technical
support workers remained in the Kunia “tunnel,” an underground facility originally built for
aircraft assembly during World War Two.
(U) Snowden had few friends among his co-workers at NSA Hawaii. 64 Those co-workers
described him as “smart” and “nerdy,” but also someone who was “arrogant,” “introverted,” and
“squirrelly”; an “introvert” who frequently ‘jumped to conclusions. “65 His supervisors found his
work product to be “adequate,” but he was chronically late for work, frequently not showing up
until the afternoon. 66 Snowden claimed he had trouble waking up on time because he stayed up
late playing video games. 67
(U) Few of Snowden’s Hawaii co-workers recall him expressing political opinions. One
remembered a conversation in which Snowden claimed the Stop Online Piracy Act and the
59 Id.
60 Id.
61 Interview with NSA Attorney (Feb. 8, 2016).
62 NSA, Edward Snowden Timeline (Sept. 30, 2014). Dell Federal was a subcontractor to CACI International for
NSA’s AXISS Field IT support contracts. E-mail from NSA Legislative Affairs to HPSCI Staff, “Responses to
Your Questions on Read and Return Documents for HPSCI Media Leaks Review,” (Dec. 2, 2014, at 3:47 PM).
Overall document cited U//FOUO; cited portion classified U//FOUO. ·
63 Id.
64 Interview with NSA Security Official (Jan. 28, 2016).
65 Interview with NSA Attorney (Jan. 28, 2016).
66 Id.
61 Id.
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Protect Intellectual Property Act would lead to online censorship. 68 In the same conversation,
Snowden told his colleague that he had not read either bill.69 The same co-worker recalled
Snowden once claiming that, based on his meetings with Chinese hackers at a conference, the
United States caused problems for China but China never caused problems for the United
States.70 Although no other co-worker in Hawaii recalled Snowden expressing any sympathy for
foreign governments, a different co-worker from the Kunia tunnel remembered that Snowden
defended the actions of Private Bradley Manning. 71
(U) One incident early in Snowden’s time at NSA Hawaii merits further description. In
June 2012, Snowden installed a patch to a group of servers on classified networks that supported
NSA field sites, including NSA Hawaii. Although the patch was intended to fix a vulnerability
to the classified servers, the patch caused the servers to crash, resulting in a loss of network
access for several NSA sites.72 One ofNSA’s senior technical support managers, a government
employee, fired off an e-mail to a number of systems administrators, asking who had installed
the troublesome patch and sarcastically chiding that individual for failing to test the patch before
loading it. 73
(U) Snowden replied to all the recipients and added the deputy head ofNSA’s technical
services directorate to the e-mail thread. This individual was several levels above the immediate
government supervisors whom Snowden could have contacted first. Calling the initial e-mail
“not appropriate and … not helpful,” Snowden accused the middle manager of focusing on
“evasion and finger-pointing rather than problem resolution.” 74
(U) Snowden received a quick rebuke. The NSA civilian employee in Washington
responsible for managing field AXISS contracts sent Snowden an e-mail telling him his response
was “totally UNACCEPTABLE” because “[u]nder no circumstances will any contractor call out
or point fingers at any government manager whether you agree with their handling of an issue or
not.”75 She further instructed Snowden that ifhe “felt the need to discuss with any management
it should have been done with the site management you are working with and no one else.” 76
~ That weekend, Snowden came in to work
77
68 Interview with NSA Attorney (Jan. 28, 2016) (citing co-worker 111111).
69 Id. (citing co-worker
70 Id. (citing co-worker
71 Id.; Interview with N ttomey (Feb. 8, 2016) ( citing co-worker.).
72 Interview with (Oct. 28, 2015).
73 E-mail from , “RE: (U) ICA-tcp issues with KB2653956,” (Jun. 21, 2012, at 1:20AM). Overall
document classified U//FOUO.
74 E-mail from Edward Snowden, “RE: (U) ICA-tcp issues with KB2653956,” (Jun. 21, 2012, at 1 :OOPM). Overall
document classified U//FOUO.
75 E-mail from_, “(U) E-mail you sent in response to ICA-tcp issues with a patch,” (Jun. 22, 2012, at
3:26AM). Overall document classified U//FOUO.
76 Id.
77 Interview with NSA Security Official (Jan. 28, 2016).
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(U) The following Monday, he sent an e-mail to the NSA middle manager saying he
“understood how bad this e-mail looked for what was intended to be a relatively benign
message” and acknowledging that the e-mail “never should have happened in the first place.” 78
The manager accepted the apology, explaining that his problem with the message “had nothing
to do with the content but with distribution” because he did not understand “the elevation of the
issue to such a high management level”; that is, to the deputy head ofNSA’s technical services
directorate. 79
(U) Snowden would later publicly claim that his “breaking point”-the final impetus for
his unauthorized downloads and disclosures of troves of classified material-was March 2013
congressional testimony by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. 80
(SI/REL TO USA, FVEY) But only a few weeks after his conflict with NSA managers,
on July 12, 2012-eight months before Director Clapper’s testimony-Snowden began the
unauthorized, mass downloading of information from NSA networks. 81
(U) Snowden ‘s Downloading and Removal Process
(U) Snowden used several methods to gather information on NSA networks, none of
which required advanced computer skills.
(U) At first, Snowden used blunt tools to download files en masse from NSA networks.
Two non-interactive downloading tools, commonly known as “scraping” tools, called “wget”
and DownThemAll! were available on NSA classified networks for legitimate system
administrator purposes. 84 Both tools were designed to allow users to download large numbers of
files over slow or unstable network connections. 85 Snowden used the two tools with a list of
website addresses, sometimes writing simple programming scripts to generate the lists. For
78 E-mail from Edward Snowden, “RE: (U) ICA-tcp issues with KB2653956” (Jun. 25, 2012, at 2:31AM). Overall
document classified U//FOUO.
79 E-mail from_, “RE: (U) ICA-tcp issues with KB2653956” (Jun. 25, 2012, at 1:51AM). Overall
document classified U//FOUO.
80 “Transcript: ARD Interview with Edward Snowden,” (Jan. 26, 2014), available at
https://edwardsnowden.com/20 14/01/27 /video-and-interview-with-edward-snowden.
81 NSA, Edward Snowden Timeline (Sept. 30, 2014). Overall document classified C//NF; cited portion classified
C//REL TO USA, FVEY.
82 NSA, “Methods Used by Edward Snowden To Remove Documents from NSA Networks,” (Oct. 29, 2014).
Overall document classified S//REL TO USA, FVEY; cited ortion classified S//REL.
83
NSA, “Methods Used by Edward Snowden To Remove Documents from NSA Networks,” (Oct. 29, 2014).
Overall document classified S//REL TO USA, FVEY; cited portion classified U//FOUO
85 Id. Overall document classified S//REL TO USA, FVEY; cited portion classified U//FOUO
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instance, ifNSA webpages were set up in numerical order (i.e., page 1, page 2, page 3, and so
on), Snowden programmed a script to automatically collect the pages. 86 Neither scraping tool
targeted areas of potential privacy or civil liberties concerns; rather, Snowden downloaded all
information from internal NSA networks and classified webpages of other IC elements. 87
(U) Exceeding the access required to do his job, Snowden next began using his systems
administrator privileges to search across other NSA employees’ personal network drives and
copy what he found on their drives.91 Snowden also enlisted his unwitting colleagues to help
him, asking several of his co-workers for their securit1 credentials so he could obtain
information that they could access, but he could not.9 One of these co-workers subsequently
lost his security clearance and resigned from NSA employment. 93
(8//REL) Snowden infringed the privacy of at least • NSA personnel by searching
their network drives without their permission, removing a co y of any documents he found to be
of interest. 94 5 •
86 Id. Overall document classified S//REL TO USA, FVEY; cited portion classified U//FOUO
87 Id. Overall document classified S//REL TO USA, FVEY; cited portion classified U//FOUO
88 NSA, “HPSCI Recollection Summary Paper,” (Jan. 26, 2015). Overall document classified S//NF; cited portion
classified S//NF. See infra for a more detailed description of the files Snowden removed.
89 NSA, “Methods Used by Edward Snowden To Remove Documents from NSA Networks,” (Oct. 29, 2014).
Overall document classified S//REL TO USA, FVEY; cited ortion classified S//REL TO USA, FVEY.
90 Interview with NSA Security Official (Jan. 28, 2016).
91 NSA, “Methods Used by Edward Snowden To Remove Documents from NSA Networks,” (Oct. 29, 2014).
Overall document classified S//REL TO USA, FVEY; cited portion classified U//FOUO.
92 HPSCI Memorandum for the Record, NSA Briefing to HPSCI Staff(July 22, 2013).
93 NSA Legislative Affairs Memorandum to Staff Director and Minority Staff Director (Feb. 10, 2014). Overall
document classified U; document not portion-marked.
94 Interview with NSA Security Official (Jan. 28, 2016); NSA, “Number of Personal Network Drives Searched,”
(Mar. 14, 2016). Overall document classified S//REL TO USA, FVEY; cited portion classified S//REL TO USA,
FVEY.
95 Interview with NSA Security Official (Jan. 28, 2016).
96 Id.
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(U) Snowden’s searches quickly expanded beyond surveillance programs. Some of the
personal network drives Snowden searched belonged to individuals involved in the hiring
decision for a job for which Snowden had applied. On these individuals’ network drives,
Snowden searched for human resources files and files related to the promotion and hiring
decisions.97
(S//REL) Snowden first saved the information he gathered on his personal network
drive.98 At some point in 2012, a fellow systems administrator noticed that Snowden’s personal
drive used a significantly larger amount of memory than most other employees and asked him
what he was doing. 99 Snowden responded that he was downloading system atches for NSA
networks, a task that was consistent with his job responsibilities. 100
(U) In late August 2012, Snowden requested a ”thin-on-thick” machine for his desk. 102
At the time, NSA Hawaii was in the middle of a transition from “thick clients,”-physical
desktop computers at each worker’s desk, to “thin clients,”-virtual desktops hosted on servers.
On a ”thin client,” there is no traditional desktop computer at workers’ desks, rather, each user
has a client that provides a display and input, with computing processors, memory, and storage
on network servers. Snowden’s “thin-on-thick” setup meant that he had a physical desktop
computer at his desk, but he only used its computing power and hard drive to operate a virtual
computer. This “thin-on-thick” setup allowed NSA Hawaii to reap some of the benefits of thin
clients, such as uniform security policies and improved information sharing, without the cost of
buying new thin client devices. NSA Hawaii could also make use of a large quantity of “thick
client” desktop computers it had recently purchased. 103 Yet the thin-on-thick setup opened up a
loophole for Snowden to exploit.
(S//NF) Snowden knew NSA’s networks recorded and logged every action by users on
thick client workstations while connected to the network. 104 He also knew that auditing controls
97 NSA, “Number of Personal Network Drives Searched,” (Mar. 14, 2016). Overall document classified S//REL TO
USA, FVEY; cited portion classified S//REL TO USA, FVEY.
98 NSA, “Methods Used by Edward Snowden To Remove Documents from NSA Networks,” (Oct. 29, 2014).
Overall document classified S//REL TO USA, FVEY; cited portion classified S//REL TO USA, FVEY.
99 Interview with NSA Attorney (Jan. 28, 2016).
100 Id.
101 NSA, “Methods Used by Edward Snowden To Remove Documents from NSA Networks,” (Oct. 29, 2014).
Overall document classified S//REL TO USA, FVEY; cited portion classified S//REL TO USA, FVEY.
102 NSA Response to HPSCI Question on Thin-on-Thick Computer at Snowden’s Workstation (Mar. 2, 2016).
Overall document classified S//NF; cited portion classified S//NF. Because thin-on-thick workstations were
prevalent at NSA Hawaii at the time, Snowden did not have to go through any special approval process to obtain a
thin-on-thick workstation.
103 Interview with NSA Security Official (Jan. 28, 2016).
104 NSA, “Response to HPSCI Document Re uest – Question # IO” (Ma
S//NF; cited ortion classified S//NF.
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would send an alert to network security ersonnel if he tried to remove data from the network.
106
(SI/REL) There is no evidence that NSA was aware of this specific vulnerability to its
networks. Because Snowden’s legitimate work responsibilities involved transferring large
amounts of data between different SharePoint servers, the large quantities of data he copied as
Step I of the exfiltration process did not trigger any NSA alerts for abnormal network traffic. 109
105 NSA, “Purpose of Functioning CD-ROM and USB Drive,” (Mar. 14, 2016). Overall document classified S//REL
USA, FVEY; cited portion classified S//REL USA, FVEY.
106 NSA, “Methods Used by Edward Snowden To Remove Documents from NSA Networks,” (Oct. 29, 2014).
Overall document classified S//REL TO USA, FVEY; cited portion classified S//REL TO USA, FVEY. See also id
for additional details on the NSA forensics rocess that allowed for the reconstruction of Snowden’ s methods.
107
Interview with NSA Security Official (Jan. 28, 2016).
109 NSA, “Response to HPSCI Document Request – Question# 1 O” (May 1, 2015). Overall document classified
S//REL USA, FVEY; cited portion classified S//REL USA, FVEY. Although Snowden, as a systems administrator,
was authorized to transfer large quantities of data on the NSA network, he was not authorized to remove data from
the network for his intended purpose of later transferring it to removable media so he could disclose it.
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(U) NSA Hawaii – Gaining More Access and Departing for China and Russia
(U) After he began removing documents in the summer of 2012, Snowden spent several
months applying for employment as a NSA civilian. In September 2012, he took a test to obtain
a position in the Tailored Access Operations office, or TAO, the group within NSA responsible
for computer network exploitation operations. After finding the test and its answers among the
documents he had taken off of NSA networks, he passed the test. 111 Based on the test result and
his exaggerated resume, 112 TAO offered him a position. The pay grade TAO offered, howevera
GS-12 position that would have paid around $70,000 per year-was not sufficient for
Snowden. He instead believed he should have been offered a GS-15 position that would have
paid nearly $120,000 per year. 113
(U) In early December 2012, Snowden attempted to contact journalist Glenn Greenwald.
To hide his identity, Snowden used the pseudonym “Cincinnatus” and asked Greenwald for his
public encryption key so Snowden could send him documents securely. 115 In January 2013, he
contacted filmmaker Laura Poitras. 116
(U) In late March 2013, Snowden finally obtained a new position, not with NSA as a
civilian but with Booz Allen Hamilton as a contractor. 117 He would be a SIGINT Development
Analyst, meaning he analyzed foreign networks and cyber operators to help NSA’s National
Threat Operation Center (NTOC) in its cyber defense efforts. NTOC’s operations helped defend
U.S. military networks from attacks by foreign cyber actors, including Russia and China.
110 NSA, “Purpose of Functioning CD-ROM and USB Drive,” (Mar. 14, 2016).
111 Bryan Burrough, Sarah Ellison, and Suzanna Andrews, “The Snowden Saga: A Shadow land of Secrets and
Light,” Vanity Fair (May 2014), available at www.vanityfair.com/news/politics/2014/05/edward-snowden-politicsinterview
(quoting NSA Deputy Director Rick Ledgett).
112 Edward Snowden Resume (June 28, 2012). Snowden described himself as a “Senior Advisor” at
“Dell/NSNCIA/DIA” rather than as a systems administrator. Resume inflation was a habit for Snowden-in the
files he sent to Glenn Oreenwald, he described himself as an NSA Special Advisor “under corporate cover” and as a
former CIA “field officer.” See Glenn Greenwald, No Place to Hide at 32.
113 Interview with NSA Security Official (Jan. 28, 2016).
114 NSA, Edward Snowden Timeline (Sept. 30, 2014).
115 Glenn Greenwald, No Place to Hide at 7 (2014).
116 NSA, Edward Snowden Timeline (Sept. 30, 2014).
117 NSA, Edward Snowden Timeline (Sept. 30, 2014).
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(C//NF) In his new position, Snowden had access to more documents on NSA networks,
many of which he later removed. 118 Because there was not a thin-on-thick workstation at
Snowden’s new desk, he had to return after hours to his old desk-located at a different NSA
facility a twenty-minute drive away-to exfiltrate documents 119
His NTOC job did not require him to visit his old building, so he had no reason other than
document removal to return. 120
(U) On May 15, 2013, Snowden told his Booz Allen Hamilton supervisor that he needed
to take two weeks of leave without pay to return to the continental United States for medical
reasons. 121 According to his supervisor, Snowden had previously claimed he suffered from
epilepsy, 122 although he never presented evidence of a diagnosis from any doctor. 123 Four days
later, Snowden flew to Hong Kong without telling either his girlfriend or his mother (who was in
Hawaii at the time visiting him) where he was going. 124 The Committee found no conclusive
evidence indicating why Snowden chose Hong Kong as his destination, but, according to later
accounts, Snowden believed he would be safe in the city based on its tradition of free speech. 125
(U) On Friday May 31, Snowden’s leave without pay ended. The following Monday,
June 3, Booz Allen Hamilton started looking for him. 126 Two days later, on June 5, Booz Allen
reported Snowden to NSA’s Office of Security and Greenwald published the first ofSnowden’s
disclosures. 127
(U) Four days after the fir

t Greenwald articles were published, Snowden revealed
himself as the source of the disclosures. 128 According to press reports, between June 10 and June
23, Snowden hid in the apartments of refugees in Hong Kong while his lawyer worked to arrange
transit for him out of the city. 129 On June 23, 2013, he flew from Hong Konf< to Moscow’s
Sheremetyvevo airport, accompanied by Wikileaks activist Sarah Harrison. 1 0 The next day, he
failed to appear on a flight to Havana and disappeared from public view until August 1, 2013,
when Russia granted him asylum and he left the airport. 131 As of September 15, 2016, Snowden
remains in Russia.
118 Interview with NSA Security Official (Jan. 28, 2016).
119 NSA, “Response to HPSCI Document Request – Question #2” (June 24, 2015). Overall document classified
S//NF; cited portion classified C//REL.
120 Id. Cited portion classified C//REL.
121 NSA, Edward Snowden Timeline (Sept. 30, 2014).
122 Interview with NSA Attorney (Jan. 28, 2016) (citing BAH supervisor).
123 Interview with NSA Security Official (Jan. 28, 2016).
124 NSA, Edward Snowden Timeline (Sept. 30, 2014); Interview with NSA Security Official (Jan. 28, 2016).
125 See Luke Harding, The Snowden Files (2014) at 108.
126 NSA, Edward Snowden Timeline (Sept. 30, 2014).
127 Glenn Greenwald, “Verizon Order: NSA Collecting Phone Records of Millions of Americans Daily,” The
Guardian (June 5, 2013).
128 See Luke Harding, The Snowden Files (2014) at 146-52.
129 Theresa Tedesco, “How Snowden Escaped,” National Post (Sept. 6, 2016), available at
http://news.nationalpost.com/features/how-edward-snowden-escaped-hong-kong/
130 Luke Harding, The Snowden Files (2014) at 224.
131 Id. at 229-30, 250.
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Additionally, although
Snowden’s objective may have been to inform the public, the information he released is also
available to Russian, Chinese, Iranian, and North Korean intelligence services; any terrorist with
Internet access; and many others who wish to do harm to the United States.
(S//NF) When he fled Hong Kong, Snowden left a number of encrypted com uter hard
drives behind.
-133
(U) Communications with Intelligence Oversight Personnel
(U) In March 2014 public testimony to the European Parliament, Snowden claimed that
he reported his concerns about “clearly problematic programs to more than ten distinct officials”
at NSA. 134 Snowden also publicly stated that he “specifically expressed concern about [NSA’ s]
suspect interpretation of the law,” inviting “members of Congress to request a written answer to
this question [from the NSA].” 135 The Committee requested such an answer from NSA, 136 and
found no evidence to support these claims. The Committee further found no evidence that
Snowden attempted to communicate concerns about the legality or morality of intelligence
activities to any officials, senior or otherwise, during his time at either CIA or NSA.
(U) As already described, one of Snowden’s Hawaii co-workers recalls him defending
Bradley Manning’s actions, 137 another remembered him criticizing bills under consideration in
Congress that he regarded as harmful to online privacy 138 and criticizing U.S. foreign policy
toward China. 139 None of his co-workers or his supervisors, however, recall Snowden raising
concerns about the legality or morality of U.S. intelligence activities. 140
132 DIA, Information Review Task Force-2, “Initial Assessment” (Dec. 26, 2013), at 3. Overall document classified
TS//Sl//RSEN/OC/NF; cited portion classified S//NF.
133 HPSCI Memorandum for the Record, Insider Threat/Counterintelligence Monthly Briefing (Feb. 4, 2014).
134 Edward Snowden, Testimony to the European Parliament (Mar. 7, 2014) at 6.
135 Bryan Burrough, Sarah Ellison, and Suzanna Andrews, “The Snowden Saga: A Shadowland of Secrets and
Light,” Vanity Fair (May 2014), available at www.vanityfair.com/news/politics/20l4/05/edward-snowden-politicsinterview.
136 Letter from HPSCI Chairman Mike Rogers to Director James Clapper (Aug. 5, 2014) (requesting, among other
things, “[a]ll communications between Edward Snowden and any IC or Department of Defense compliance, legal, or
Inspector General personnel”).
137 See supra, note 71.
138 See supra, note 68.
139 See supra, note 70.
140 Interview with NSA Attorney (Jan. 28, 2016) (citing supervisors, co-workers). The co-worker who recalled
Snowden defending Manning expressly mentioned that Snowden did not believe Americans’ privacy rights were
being violated and that Snowden had no qualms about the legality of the NSA mission. See Interview with NSA
Attorney (Feb. 8, 2016) ( citing co-worker •.
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(U) Neither did Snowden raise any concerns with IC oversight personnel. As previously
discussed, Snowden contacted the CIA IG within a few months of his start at the Agency to
complain about training issues and management style, but he later dropped the complaint. 141 He
did not contact the NSA IG, the Department of Defense (DOD) IG, or the Intelligence
Community (IC) IG, all of whom could have responded to a complaint regarding unlawful
intelligence activities. Nor did Snowden attempt to contact the Committee or the Senate Select
Committee on Intelligence through the procedures available to him under the Intelligence
Community Whistleblower Protection Act (IC WP A). He could have done this anonymously if
he feared retribution.
(U) Snowden did, however, contact NSA personnel who worked in an internal oversight
office about his personal difficulty understanding the safeguards against unlawful intelligence
activities. While on a trip to NSA headquarters at Ft. Meade in June 2012, Snowden visited a
training officer in the internal oversight and compliance office of the Signals Intelligence
Directorate. The training officer remembered that Snowden was upset because he had failed
NSA’s internal training course on how to handle information collected under FISA Section 702,
the legal authority by which the government can target the communications of non-U.S. persons
outside the United States. 142
(U) The internal training is a rigorous computer-based course that walks NSA employees
and contractors through the laws and regulations that govern the proper handling of information
collected under the authority of FISA Section 702, including information collected under the
programs Snowden would later disclose, PRISM and “upstream” collection. At the end of the
course, NSA personnel take a scenario-based test to gauge their comprehension of the material;
if they do not receive a minimum score on the test, they must retake the computer-based training
course. All of the answers to the test questions can be found within the training material. After
three failures of the computer-based course, the individual must attend an in-person training
course to ensure they are able to understand the rules governing Section 702, including privacy
protections.
(U) According to the training officer, Snowden had failed the computer-based training
course and was afraid of the consequences. 143 He was also upset because he believed the course
was rigged. 144 After the training officer explained to Snowden that he could take the course
again-and that careful reading would allow him to find all of the answers to the test-Snowden
became calm and left the oversight and compliance office. 145 At no point during his visit to the
compliance office did Snowden raise any concerns about how NSA used Section 702, PRISM, or
“upstream” collection. 146
141 See supra, notes 19 through 30.
142 NSA, “OVSC1203 Issue Regarding Course Content and Trick Questions,” overall document classified TS/INF;
cited portion classified U//FOUO.
143 Interview with – (Oct. 28, 2015).
144 Id
14s Id.
146 Id.
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(U) In April 2013-after he had removed documents multiple times from NSA systemsSnowden
contacted the NSA Office of General Counsel with a question about a different training
course. 147 He was curious about the mandatory training on United States Signals Intelligence
Directive 18, which is the foundational authority for NSA’s collection activities overseas
targeting foreigners. 148 Specifically, he believed the training erroneously accorded the same
precedence to statutes and executive orders. A few days later, an NSA attorney clarified that
while executive orders have the force of law, they cannot trump a statute. 149 Snowden did not
respond to that e-mail; he also did not raise any concerns about the legality or morality of U.S.
intelligence activities. 150
(U) Was Snowden a Whistlehlower?
(U) As a legal matter, during his time with NSA, Edward Snowden did not use
whistleblower procedures under either law or regulation to raise his objections to U.S.
intelligence activities, and thus, is not considered a whistleblower under current law. He did not
file a complaint with the DOD or IC IG’s office, for example, or contact the intelligence
committees with concerns about fraud, waste, abuse, mismanagement, or violations of law.
Instead, Snowden disclosed classified information to the press.
(U) Snowden, however, has argued that even a lawful disclosure would have resulted in
retaliation against him.
(U) Among other things, Snowden has argued that he was unable to raise concerns about
NSA programs because he was not entitled to protection as an IC whistleblower given his status
as a contractor. (He was with Booz Allen at the time of his leaks to the press.) But the 1998 IC
WP A applies to IC employees as well as contractors. Although the statute does not explicitly
prohibit reprisals, the IC WPA channel nevertheless enables confidential, classified disclosures
and oversight, as well as a measure of informal source protection by Congress. The statute
specifically authorizes IC contractors to inform the intelligence committees of adverse actions
taken as a consequence of IC WPA-covered disclosures.
(U) Moreover, explicit protection against such actions was conferred on Snowden by
DoD regulation 5240 1-R. Snowden’s unauthorized disclosures involved Executive Order (EO)
12333 activities as well as activities conducted under FISA. At least with respect to intelligence
activities authorized under E.O. 12333-and, according to the DoD Senior Intelligence
Oversight Official, activities conducted under other authorities-5240 1-R requires employees
and contractors of a DoD intelligence element to report “questionable activities,” or “conduct
that constitutes, or is related to, [an] intelligence activity that may violate the law, any Executive
147 E-mail from Edward Snowden to NSA Office of General Counsel (Apr. 5, 2013, at 4:11PM), overall document
classified U//FOUO; cited portion classified U//FOUO.
148 Id., cited portion classified U//FOUO.
149 E-mail from NSA Office of General Counsel Attorney to Edward Snowden (Apr. 8, 2013, at 1 :37PM), overall
document classified U//FOUO; cited portion classified U//FOUO.
150 IC on the Record, “Edward J. Snowden email inquiry to the NSA Office of General Counsel,” (May 29, 2014)
(“There was not additional follow-up noted.”).
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Order or Presidential directive … or applicable DoD policy[.]” 151 5240 1-R also says that DoD
senior leaders shall “ensure that no adverse action is taken against any employee [ or contractor]
because the employee reports [questionable activities]” pursuant to the regulation. 152 The IC
IG’s Executive Director for Intelligence Community Whistleblowing & Source Protection
(ICW&SP), a former employee of the DoD IG’s staff, has advised HPSCI staff that these
procedures applied to Snowden during his employment as an NSA contractor and would have
helped to shield him from retaliation for voicing his objections internally.
(U) Finally, Snowden also likely was covered by 10 U.S.C. § 2409 (Section 2409). As
written at the time of Snowden’s leaks, 153 Section 2409 was primarily focused on protecting
DoD contractors from reprisals if they properly disclosed a “violation of law related” to a DoD
contract. However, Snowden has not advanced any contract-related claims about NSA
surveillance. Rather, he generally disagreed with NSA surveillance programs on policy and
constitutional grounds.
(U) If Snowden did have concerns with programs related to a DoD contract, then the
prior version of Section 2409 authorized him to raise those concerns without fear of retaliation
with a “Member of Congress, a representative of a Committee of Congress, an Inspector
General, the Government Accountability Office, a Department of Defense employee responsible
for contract oversight or management, or an authorized official of an agency or the Department
of Justice[.]”
(U) Foreign Influence
151 Department of Defense Regulation 5240 1-R, Procedures Governing the Activities of DoD Intelligence
Components that Affect U.S. Persons, C.15.2.1, 3.1.1 (Dec. 7, 1982) (emphasis added).
152 Id at C.14.2.3.2.
153 Important amendments to Section 2409, which took effect in July 2013, substantially altered the statute. Among
other things, the updates extended reprisal protections to DoD subcontractors as well as contractors, and widened the
list of persons to whom contractors and subcontractors could make disclosures. At the same time, the amendments
also narrowed Section 2409’s coverage by explicitly excluding employees and contractors ofIC elements. However,
that limitation, like other alterations to Section 2409, did not take effect until July 2013-after Snowden had
unlawfully disclosed NSA material to journalists.
154 See, e.g., Testimony of Gen. Keith Alexander at 30, HPSCI Hearing (Jun. 13, 2013) (“It is not clear to us if there
is a foreign nexus. There [are] some things; it does look odd that someone would go to Hon Kong to do this.”)
155
15
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(TS//HCS/OC/NF) Since Snowden’s arrival in Moscow, he has had, and continues to
have, contact with Russian intelligence services.
and in June 2016,
the deputy chairman of the Russian parliament’s defense and security committee asserted that
“Snowden did share intelligence” with his government. 161
(U) What Did Snowden Take?
In light of the volume at stake, it is likely that even
Snowden does not know the full contents of all 1.5 million documents he removed.
(U) One thing that is clear, however, is that the IC documents disclosed in public are
merely the tip of the iceberg.
(S//NF) As of August 19, 2016, press outlets had published or referenced_
taken by Snowden. 164 This represents less than one-tenth of one percent of the nearly 1.5 million
documents the IC assesses Snowden removed. 165
160 Id. Cited material classified S//OC//NF.
161 Mary Louise Kelly, “During Tenure in Russia, Edward Snowden Has Kept A Low Profile,” National Public
Radio (June 29, 2016), available at http://www.npr.org/2016/06/29/483890378/during-tenure-in-russia-edwardsnowden-
has-ke t-a-low- rofile.
16
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(U) The 1.5 million documents came from two classified networks, an internal NSA
network called NSANet and an IC-wide Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information
network called the Joint Warfighter Information Computer System (JWICS). If printed out and
stacked, these documents would create a pile more than three miles high. 166
165 NSA, “HPSCI Recollection Summary Paper,” (Jan. 26, 2015) Overall document classified S//NF; cited portion
classified S//NF.
166 Testimony of Mr. Scott Liard, Deputy Director for Counterintelligence, Defense Intelligence Agency, HPSCI
Hearing (Jan. 27, 2014), at 7-8. The 1.5 million document count does not include 374,000 blank documents
Snowden downloaded from the Department of the Army Intelligence Information Service (DAIIS) Message
Processing System. See DIA, Information Review Task Force-2, “Fourth Quarter Report, 2014” (Dec. 31, 2014), at
xvii.
167 NSA, “HPSCI Recollection Summary Paper,” (Jan. 26, 2015). Overall document classified S//NF; cited portion
classified S//NF.
168 NSA, “Timing of Recollection and Security Flags,” (Mar. 14, 2016). Overall document classified S//REL TO
USA, FVEY; cited portion classified S//REL.
169 Id.
110 Id.
171 NSA, “HPSCI Recollection Summary Paper,” (Jan. 26, 2015).
172 Id.; see also DIA, Information Review Task Force-2, “Fourth Quarter Report, 2014” (Dec. 31, 2014), at xvii.
173 Id; see also DIA, Information Review Task Force-2, “Fourth Quarter Report, 2014” (Dec. 31, 2014), at xvii.
174 Id; see also DIA, Information Review Task Force-2, “Fourth Quarter Report, 2014” (Dec. 31, 2014), at xvii.
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(8) The vast majority of the documents Snowden removed were unrelated to electronic
surveillance or any issues associated with privacy and civil liberties.
(U) What Damage Did Snowden Cause?
(S/INF) Over the past three years, the Intelligence Community and the Department of
Defense (DoD) have carried out separate reviews-with differing methodologies-of the
contents of all 1.5 million documents Snowden removed. It is not clear which of the documents
Snowden removed are in the hands of a foreign government. All of the documents that have
been publicly disclosed 176–can be accessed b foreign militaries
and intelligence services as well as the public.
(U) Out of an abundance of caution, DoD therefore reviewed all 1.5 million documents to
determine the maximum extent of the possible damage.
(TS/INF) As of June 2016, the most recent DoD review identified 13 high-risk issues,
which are identified in the following table. 179 Eight of the 13 relate to
capabilities ofDoD; if the Russian or Chinese
governments have access to this information, American troops will be at greater risk in any
future conflict. 180
E-mail from NSA Legislative Affairs (Aug. 22, 2016, at 4:48PM). Overall document classified S//REL TO
USA, FVY; cited portion classified S//REL TO USA, FVEY.
177 DIA, Information Review Task Force-2, “Initial Assessment” (Dec. 26, 2013), at 3. Overall document classified
TS//SV/RSEN/OC/NF; cited portion classified S//NF.
178 Mary Louise Kelly, “During Tenure in Russia, Edward Snowden Has Kept A Low Profile,” National Public
Radio (June 29, 2016), available at http://www.npr.org/2016/06/29/483890378/during-tenure-in-russia-edwardsnowden-
has-kept-a-low-profile.
179 DoD, Mitigation Oversight Task Force, “Quarterly Report” (Oct. 2015), at 8. Overall document classified
TS//Sl/TK//ORCON/NF; cited portion classified TS/INF
180 Id.
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(U) The Intelligence Community, by contrast, has carried out a damage assessment for
only a small subset of the documents Snowden removed. And unlike IC damage assessments for
previous unauthorized disclosures , 181 the IC assessment on Snowden does not contain an
assessment of Snowden ‘s background and motive, an assessment of whether he was the agent of
a foreign intelligence service, or recommendations for how to improve security in the IC. In its
review, the National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC) , a component of the Office
of the Director of National Intelligence, divided the documents Snowden removed into three
“tiers.” 182
181 See, e.g., Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive, “Ana Belen Montes : A Damage Assessment ,”
(July ! , 2004) . Overall document classified S//NF.
182 NCSC, “Intelligence Community Damage Assessment: Unauthorized Disclosures of Classified Information
Attributed to Edward Snowden , 1 January 20 I 5 through 31 August 20 I 5,” (Apr. 8, 2016) , at 5. Overall document
classified TS//HCS-P/Sl-G /TK//OC/NF; cited portion classified U//FOUO.
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(8//REL) Tier One: Documents that have been disclosed in the media, either in whole
or in part. As of August 19, 2016, press outlets had published or referenced 1111fil es taken by
Snowden.183
(TS/181/lOC/NF) Tier Two: Documents that, based on forensic analysis, Snowden
would have collected in the course of collecting Tier One, but have not yet been disclosed to the
ublic. The IC assesses these documents are likel in the hands of the media.
(8//NF) The IC damage assessment of Tier One documents is still ongoing, but, as oflate
May 2016, the IC had no plans to c out a damage assessment of the documents in Tier Two
or Tier Three. 186
As a result, the IC’s
damage assessment cannot be considered a complete accounting of the damage Snowden caused
to U.S. intelligence.
(U) However, even the IC’s limited damage assessment of documents in Tier One
indicates that Snowden’s disclosures caused massive damage to national security. A few
examples, listed below, illustrate the scale of the damage .

183 E-mail from NSA Legislative Affairs (Aug. 22, 2016, at 4:48PM). Overall document classified S//REL TO
USA, FVEY; cited portion classified S//REL TO USA, FVEY.
184 NCSC, “Intelligence Community Damage Assessment: Unauthorized Disclosures of Classified Information
Attributed to Edward Snowden, I January 2015 through 31 August 2015,” (Apr. 8, 2016), at 5. Overall document
classified TS//HCS-P/SI-G/TK//OC/NF, cited portion classified TS//SI/OC/NF.
185 Id., cited portion classified TS//SI/OC/NF.
186 HPSCI Staff Briefing with NCSC (May 25, 2016).
187 NCSC, “Intelligence Community Damage Assessment: Unauthorized Disclosures of Classified Information
Attributed to Edward Snowden, I January 2015 through 31 August 2015,” (Apr. 8, 2016), at I. Overall document
classified TS//HCS-P/SI-G/TK//OC/NF; cited portion classified S//NF.
188 HPSCI Staff Memorandum for the Record, “NSA Notification of Resulting
from Recent Media Disclosures,” (July 8, 2014). Overall document classified TS//SI//NF.
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1s9 Id.
190 Id.


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0
0
0
191 NCSC, “Intelligence Community Damage Assessment: Unauthorized Disclosures of Classified Inform ation
Attributed to Edward Snowden , I August 2014 through 31 December 2014,” (Dec . 22, 2015) , at 25. Overall
document classified TS//HCS-P/SI-G/TK//OC/NF; cited portion classified S//Sl//NF .
192 Presidential Policy Directive 28, “Signals Intelligence Activities” (Jan . 17, 20 I 4) .
193 Letter from Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper to Chairman Devin Nunes and Ranking Member
Adam Schiff (Jun. 23, 2015). Overall document classified TS//SI//NF, cited portion classified TS//SI//NF .
194 NSA, “Response to Congressionally Directed Action:
_ ,” (Nov . 17, 2014), at 2-4. Overall document classified TS//Sl//NF ; cited portion classified
TS//Sl//NF .
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25
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0


195 HPSCI Staff Briefing with ODNI (Sept. 6, 2016).
196 HPSCI Staff Briefing with NCSC, NSA, CIA, and FBI (Jun. 17, 2016).
197 NCSC, “Intelligence Community Damage Assessment: Unauthorized Disclosures of Classified Information
Attributed to Edward Snowden, 1 August 2014 through 31 December 2014 – HCS-0 Annex” (Dec. 22, 2015), .
Overall document classified TS//HCS-0/SI//OC//NF; cited portion classified S//HCS-0//0C/NF.
198 NCSC, “Intelligence Community Damage Assessment: Unauthorized Disclosures of Classified Information
Attributed to Edward Snowden, 1 January 2015 through 31 August 2015,” (Apr. 8, 2016), at 11. Overall document
classified TS//HCS-P/SI-G/TK//OC/NF; cited portion classified TS//SI//NF.
199 HPSCI Staff Briefing with NCSC, NSA, CIA, and FBI (Jun. 17, 2016).
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0
0


200 NCSC, “Intelligence Community Damage Assessment: Unauthorized Disclosures of Classified Information
Attributed to Edward Snowden, I January 2015 through 31 August 2015,” (Apr. 8, 2016), at 11. Overall document
classified TS//HCS-P/SI-G/TK//OC/NF; cited portion classified S//HCS-P/SI//OC/NF.
201 Id., cited portion classified S//HCS-P/SI//OC/NF.
202 NSA, “Response to Request for Information Re: ,” (Dec. 16, 2014).
Overall document classified TS//SI//NF; cited portion classified TS//SI//NF.
203 CIA, Memorandum for Congress, “In Response to Questions on Decreased Collection Possibly Caused by
Unauthorized Disclosures since June 2013,” (July 20, 2016), at 2. Overall document classified TS//HCS-0-P
CRD/SI//OC/NF; cited portion classified TS//SI/REL TO USA, FVEY).
204 ODNI, Recouping Intelligence Capabilities Brief (Jun. 7, 2016), at 8. Overall document classified TS//SI//NF;
cited portion classified TS//SI//NF; ODNI Briefing to HPSCI Staff on Recouping Intelligence Capabilities Brief
(July 13, 2016).
20S Id.
206 ODNI, “Remediation of Unauthorized Disclosures” (June 2015), at 3. Overall document classified
TS//SI//OC/NF; cited portion classified TS//SI/OC/NF.
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(U) How Has the IC Recovered from Snowden?
(TS//SI//NF) There is no IC-wide estimate for the total cost to the government of
remediating Snowden’s disclosures. However, a mid-2015 study by ODNI’s Systems and
Resources Analysis Group estimated that NSA and CIA will spend over Fiscal
Years 2016 and 2017 to recover from the damage Snowden’s disclosures caused to SIGINT
capabilities. 211
(TS/1-SI//NFA) s a whole, the IC will undoubtedly spend even more. The
estimate represents a conservative assessment of the amount CIA and NSA will spend to rebuild
SIGINT capabilities that were damaged by Snowden’s disclosures. The estimate captures only
two years of spending and does not reflect investments made before Fiscal Year 2016 or planned
investments for Fiscal Year 2018 and beyond. Moreover, it does not capture the costs associated
HPSCI Staff Memorandum for the Record, “Upcoming Unauthorized Disclosures of
~ Overall document classified TS//SI//NF. ·
ODNI SRA, “FYl7 Major Issue Studies- Recouping Intelligence Capabilities,” (June 7, 2016), at 9. Overall
document classified TS//SI//NF; cited portion classified TS//SI//NF.
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with the IC’s damaged relationships with foreign and corporate partners, the opportunity cost of
the time and resources the IC and DOD have spent mitigating the damage of the disclosures, or
the costs of improved security measures across the federal government.
(U) Snowden’s actions also exposed significant vulnerabilities in the IC’s information
security. Although it is impossible to reduce the risk of an insider threat like Snowden to zero,
relatively simple changes such as automatically detecting the malicious use of scraping tools like
“wget,” physically disabling removable media from the workstations ofNSA personnel who lack
a work reason to use removable media, and implementing two-person controls to transfer data by
removable media would have dramatically reduced the quantity of files Snowden could have
removed or stopped him altoge~er.
(U) The Committee remains concerned that NSA, and the IC as a whole, have not done
enough to reduce the chances of future insider threats like Snowden.
(Cl/REL TO USA, FVEY) In the aftermath ofSnowden’s disclosures, NSA compiled a
list ofllll security improvements for its networks. These improvements, called the “Secure the
Net” initiatives, contained many steps that would have stopped Snowden, such as two-person
control for transfer of data by removable media, and many broader security improvements, such
as reducing the number of privileged users and authorized data transfer agents, and moving
toward a continuous evaluation model for background investigations. 212 In July 2014, more than
a year after Snowden’s first disclosures, many of these “Secure the Net” initiatives-including
some relatively simple initiatives, such as two-stage controls for systems administrators-had
not been completed. 213 In August 2016, more than three years after Snowden’s first disclosures,
four of the 111i1ni1tia tives remained outstanding. 214
(U) In the House-passed Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016, the
Committee directed the Department of Defense Inspector General (DOD IO) to carry out an
assessment of information security at NSA, including whether NSA had successfully remediated
the vulnerabilities exposed by Snowden.
(U) In August 2016, DOD IO issued its report, finding that NSA needed to take
additional steps to effectively implement the privileged access-related “Secure the Net”
initiatives.215
· (U) In particular, DOD IO found that NSA had not: fully implemented technology to
oversee privileged user activities; effectively reduced the number of privileged access users; or
effectively reduced the number of authorized data transfer agents. In addition, contrary to the
212 NSA, “Secure the Net Initiatives,” (Aug. 22, 2016). Overall document classified C//REL TO USA, FVEY.
213 NSA, “Secure the Net Initiatives,” (July 2014). Overall document classified C//REL TO USA, FVEY.
214 NSA, “Secure the Net Initiatives,” (Aug. 22, 2016). Overall document classified C//REL TO USA, FVEY.
215 Department of Defense Inspector General, Report 2016-129, “The National Security Agency Should Take
Additional Steps in Its Privileged Access-Related Secure the Net Initiatives” (Aug. 29, 2016). Overall document
classified S//NF, cited portion classified U//FOUO.
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“Secure the Net” initiatives, NSA did not consistently secure server racks and other sensitive
equipment in data centers, and did not extend two-stage authentication controls to all high-risk
users.216 Recent security breaches at NSA underscore the necessity for the agency to improve its
security posture.
(U) And even though NSA has been the victim ofrecent breaches, it is not the only IC
agency where information security needs to be improved. For instance, a recent CIA Inspector
General report found that CIA has not yet implemented multi-factor authentication controls such
as a physical token for general or privileged users of the Agency’s enterprise or mission
systems.217
(U) As a recent Committee report concluded, the introduction of the Intelligence
Community Information Technology Enterprise (IC ITE) should produce an improved security
environment in the IC.218 And as that report noted, although IC data will be more secure and
better protected under IC ITE than it is today, from both internal and external threats, IC ITE will
also increase risks in different areas.219 These risks will require dedicated attention to ensure IC
ITE reaches its full potential for an improved security environment.
(U) Conclusion – Efforts to Improve Security
(U) Although it is impossible to reduce the chance of another Snowden to zero, more
work can and should be done to improve the security of the people and computer networks that
keep America’s most closely held secrets.
(U) Since the beginning of Snowden’s disclosures, the Committee has directed the IC to
carry out a number of studies and security improvements to reduce the risk of another insider
threat. Among its other oversight efforts, the Committee has:
• (U) Authorized an additional for insider threat detection efforts in Fiscal
Year 2014. Consistent with a spend plan and updated insider threat strategy provided to
Congress, 60 percent of these funds were to be used for insider threat detection and the
remaining 40 percent toward continuous evaluation; 220 .
• (U) Directed the DNI to ensure that the President’s National Insider Threat Policy and
Minimum Standards were fully implemented on TS/SCI networks and all NIP-funded
216 Id., cited portion classified C//REL TO USA, FVEY.
217 CIA Office oflnspector General, “Review of National Security Systems Required by the Cybersecurity Act of
2015,” Report No. 2016-0022-AS (Aug. 2016). Overall report classified S//NF, cited portion classified S//NF.
218 HPSCI Report, “Assessing IC ITE’s Security Posture,” (Feb. 4, 2016). Overall report classified S//NF, cited
portion classified U.
219 Id. at 25, cited portion classified U//FOUO.
22° Classified Annex to Accompany the Report to the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014, P.L. 113-
126, pp. 15-16.
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networks at CIA, DIA, NSA, NGA, NRO, FBI, and DOE by October 1, 2014; 221
• (U) Directed the DNI, as the Security Executive Agent, to establish a structure for a
comprehensive continuous evaluation system for holders of TS/SCI within 270 days of
the enactment; 222
• (U) Directed the DNI, in coordination with the USD(I) to review whether the continuous
evaluation process, insider threat auditing tools, and background investigation processes
should consider different kinds of information to detect potential leakers than the current
process collects to detect traditional security threats; 223
• (U) Directed the DNI to review the management controls on privileged access, to include
Systems Administrators; 224
• (U) Directed the NSA to implement a “two person rule” for Tier 3 Systems
Administrators and select Tier 2 Systems Administrators and directed the DNI to report
to the Intelligence Committees on actions he is undertaking to lead the other IC elements
in enacting a similar two person rule, or similar safeguards; 225
• (U) Directed the DNI to attempt to reduce the number of Tier 3 System Administrators
and ensure consistency in tier ratings across the IC;226
• (U) Directed the DNI to expand Scattered Castles to contain all TS/SCI clearance holders
and list any pertinent exceptions or “flags” as close to real-time as possible; 227
• (U) Directed the DNI to ensure that insider threat security measures were fully applied to
contractors and contractor facilities; 228
221 Classified Annex to Accompany the Report to the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014, P.L. I 13-
126, p. 16; Classified Annex to Accompany the Report to the House-passed Intelligence Authorization Act for
Fiscal Year 2014 pp. 32.
222 Classified Annex to Accompany the Report to the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014, P.L. I 13-
126, p. 16; Classified Annex to Accompany the Report to the House-passed Intelligence Authorization Act for
Fiscal Year 2014 pp. 32-33.
223 Classified Annex to Accompany the Report to the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014, P.L. I 13-
126, p. 16; Classified Annex to Accompany the Report to the House-passed Intelligence Authorization Act for
Fiscal Year 2014 p. 33.
224 Id.
22s Id.
226 Classified Annex to Accompany the Report to the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014, P.L. I 13-
126, p. 16; Classified Annex to Accompany the Report to the House-passed Intelligence Authorization Act for
Fiscal Year 2014 p. 34.
221 Id.
22s Id.
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• (U) Required the IC to continuously evaluate the eligibility of personnel to access
classified information, to develop procedures for automatically sharing derogatory
information between agencies, and other improvements to the reinvestigation process; 229
• (U) Encouraged the DNI to make a determination of how periodic reinvestigations will
be handled in concert with a continuous evaluation program; 230
• (U) Directed an IC analysis of private sector policies to reduce insider threats; 231
• (U) Directed a DNI-led review once every three years of all U.S. government positions
with access to classified information; 232
• (U) Directed the DNI, in consultation with the Attorney General, the Secretary of
Defense, and the Director of the Office of Personnel Management, to develop and
implement procedures that govern whether and how publicly available information may
be used in the security clearance process; 233
• (U) Required each IC element to implement a program to enhance security reviews of
individuals applying for access to classified information; 234
• (U) Required the Inspector General of each federal agency that operates national security
systems to report on, among other things, information security practices to detect data
exfiltration and other threats; 235
• (U) Directed NSA to produce a plan for completing security improvements to its
networks by the end of Calendar Year 2018, including enclaves and systems used outside
ofNSA-controlled facilities; and236
229 Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014, P.L. 113-126, Title V.
23° Classified Annex to Accompany the Report to the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014, P.L. 113-
126, p. 16
231 Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015, P.L. 113-293, § 308.
232 Classified Annex to Accompany the Report to the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015, P.L. 113-
293, p.11.
233 Classified Annex to Accompany the Report to the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015, P.L. 113-
293, pp. 11-12.
234 Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016, Division M, Consolidated Appropriations Act for Fiscal
Year 2016, P.L. 114-113, § 306.
235 Cybersecurity Act of 2015, Division N, Consolidated Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2016, P.L. 114-113,
§ 406
236 Classified Annex to Accompany the Joint Explanatory Statement to the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal
Year 2016, Division M, Consolidated Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2016, P.L. 114-113, p. 19.
TOP 8ECRET//llC8 0 P/81 G/TK//ORCON/NOFORN
32
TOP 8ECRET//HC8 0 P/81 G/TKJ/ORCON/NOFORN
• (U) Directed the Intelligence Community Inspector General (IC IG) to carry out an
assessment of post-Snowden information security improvements at CIA, DIA, FBI,
NGA, NRO, and ODNI.237
(U) As the Fiscal Year 2017 Intelligence Authorization Act moves toward enactment and
Congress begins its consideration of the President’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget request, the
Committee looks forward to working with the IC to ensure our nation’s secrets receive the
security they deserve.
237 Classified Annex to Accompany the Report to the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017, H.R.
5077, p. 93.
TOP 8ECRET//HC8 0 P/8I G/TKJJ

Leaks Unlimited – With NSA contractor Martin arrested, other leakers may still be at large

Earlier this month we learned the name of a second person who stole top secret documents from the US National Security Agency (NSA). After Edward Snowden admitted doing so publicly in June 2013, the FBI has now arrested the 51-year old Harold T. Martin III at his home in Maryland.

Martin hoarded lots of classified documents, not only from NSA but also from a number of other military and intelligence agencies. The FBI is still comparing them with those from the recent Shadow Brokers leak and a range of other NSA leaks from the past few years, but given what’s known now, it seems likely that at least one other leaker is still at large.


The house of Harold T. Martin III in Glen Burnie, Maryland
(photo: Jose Luis Magana/The Associated Press)

The New York Times reported that when the FBI raided Martin’s house on August 27, they found paper documents and many terabytes of highly classified information, even going back the 1990s. At least six documents were from 2014. It was reported that Martin first took the classified documents on paper, later on CDs and more recently on thumb drives.

The reason why Harold Martin brought home and stored such large numbers of top secret documents isn’t yet clarified. One suggestion is that he may have used them forresearch for his dissertation about “new methods for remote analysis of heterogeneous & cloud computing architectures”, which he was working on at the University of Maryland.

Documents from multiple agencies

It should be noted that not everything Martin stole comes from NSA. In the official charges there are no names of the agencies where the documents come from, they are only described as highly classified, including ones that are marked as Top Secret and Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI).

With the documents going back to the 1990s, he may well have started hoarding them from the places where he worked in those days. From 1987 to 2000, Martin served at the US Navy, achieving the rank of lieutenant, but he left active duty in 1992.

As the Washington Post found out, he then took a variety of tech jobs with government contractors, like at Computer Sciences Corp. (CSC) somewhere in the 1990s and later, until 2009, at Tenacity Solutions, for which he worked at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI).

In 2009, Harold Martin started to work for Booz Allen Hamilton, for which he was a contractor at NSA from 2012 to 2015, when Booz transferred him to the Pentagon’s Office of Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (AT&L), which is responsible for often highly sensitive and classified procurement programs. There he stayed until the moment of his arrest last August.

Officials have meanwhile said that Martin took classified documents not only from NSA, but also from his other workplaces, including ODNI and AT&L.

It’s interesting as well that in the charges against Martin, a whole paragraph is dedicated to the at least six documents from 2014, which are described as being produced “through sensitive government sources, methods, and capabilities”. As signals intelligence is traditionally seen as the most sensitive capability, maybe just these six documents are from NSA.


The building of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI)
where Harold Martin worked as a contractor before 2009
(photo: Microsoft, via Cryptome.org – click to enlarge)

Shadow Brokers investigation

After the “Shadow Brokers” disclosed a large set of secret NSA hacking tools last August, the FBI began investigating this leak. At the same time there was a lot of speculation: was NSA hacked from the outside? Had an NSA hacker been sloppy? Were the tools leaked by an insider? Maybe the same insider responsible for earlier leaks that hadn’t been attributed to Snowden?

On September 22, it was reported that during the FBI investigation, NSA officials had said that a former agency operative had carelessly left the hacking tool files available on a remote computer, where Russian hackers found them. If that’s correct, then it seems likely that the FBI traced Harold Martin when they were looking for that careless NSA hacker. It has not yet been confirmed that Martin was that person though.

Harold Martin was working at NSA’s hacking division TAO around the time when the tools were considered to be left exposed, somewhere after October 18, 2013, but a former TAO hacker told the Washington Post that Martin “worked in the unit’s front office carrying out support roles such as setting up accounts, not conducting actual operations.”

Even if Martin was the man who left the hacking tools exposed, then we still don’t know who found them and published them under the name Shadow Brokers. It’s not very likely that this was done by Martin himself, as Shadow Brokers published additional messages on August 28, October 1 and October 15, when he was already in custody. The actual publication can therefore be the work of for example Russian, Iranian or North Korean hackers or even independent hacktivists.

Other sources?

Could Harold Martin also be the source of earlier leaks, that were not attributed to Edward Snowden? In theory he could have been that “second source” next to Snowden: none of these other leaked documents (like the TAO catalog, XKEYSCORE code, tasking lists and end reports) are newer than 2015, when Martin left NSA. Contrary to this Martin is described as very patriotic, which doesn’t fit the fact that these particular leaks were clearly meant to harm and embarrass the US and NSA.

Also, Martin hasn’t (yet) been charged with espionage or the attempt to provide classified information to a third party or a foreign government – which doesn’t seem something the US government would leave out or keep secret after the recent and unprecedented statement in which the Office of the Director of National Intelligence accused Russia of hacking the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and other political organizations.

Should the FBI investigation confirm that Harold Martin was only responsible for leaking the NSA hacking tools (after which unknown others published them) and that none of his documents were provided to foreign intelligence agencies or showed up in the earlier revelations, then there’s most likely yet another leaker from inside NSA.

The Shadow Brokers leak standing alone and not related to the earlier non-Snowden leaks is of some importance, because only among the stuff published by the Shadow Brokers there are files with a date (October 18, 2013) after the day that Snowden left NSA (May 20, 2013).

This means that when Harold Martin is the initial source of the Shadow Brokers files, we can no longer exclude the possibility that the earlier leaks do come from the Snowden trove. If that would be the case, then someone with access to them went rogue and had them published on his own account. But it should also be noted that both Glenn Greenwald and Bruce Schneier explicitly said that some of these leaked documents did not come from Snowden.

The more likely option is therefore that there’s still another leaker at large, someone with a more evil intent than Harold Martin and Edward Snowden – a conclusion which is not very comforting and which also raises questions about NSA’s internal security…


Some NSA buildings at the Friendship Annex (FANX) complex near Baltimore
(photo: live.com, via Cryptome.org – click to enlarge)

NSA’s internal security measures

The NSA’s hacking division TAO, where Harold Martin worked for some time, isapparently not located in the well-known NSA headquarters building at Fort Meade, but in one or more leased office buildings outside, one of them at an office complex calledFriendship Annex (FANX) near Baltimore. TAO also has units at NSA’s four Cryptologic Centers across the US.

Entrance to the highly secured TAO headquarters building is strictly controlled: one has to go through an imposing steel door, protected by armed guards, and entrance is only possible after entering a six-digit code and passing a retinal scanner to ensure that only specially cleared individuals are allowed in.

Such security measures are more aimed at keeping outsiders out, than at insiders in. And when it comes to finding inside moles of hostile foreign intelligence agencies, the NSA is also said to have a rather bad track record. The Manning and Snowden leaks made NSA painfully aware of this and so preventive insider-threat detection programs were put in place.

It’s not clear whether these new systems failed in the case of Harold Martin, or that they simply weren’t yet implemented at the TAO location where he worked – anti-leak software that was designed by Raytheon to “spot attempts by unauthorized people to access or download data” was also not yet installed at the NSA facility in Hawaii when Snowden was working there.

Tracking what employees are doing inside is one thing, checking what they take out is another. But according to The Washington Post, the NSA (like other agencies) does notimpose universal checks of personnel and their belongings as they enter and leave agency buildings. Security guards only conduct random checks and use their discretion in order to keep en build the trust of the employees.

“If you have a bag full of stuff, you’re probably going to get stopped” said a former TAO operator to the Post, but, in general, “Disneyland has more physical security checks than we had”. Additionally, NSA facilities will have detection gates, but it seems that it was easier for Snowden to walk out with his thousands of documents than many would have thought.

As former NSA general counsel Rajesh De explained, it is unlikely “you’re going to be able to stop every incident of somebody taking documents if they’re determined to do so. But the real question is how quickly can you detect it, how quickly can you mitigate the harm of any such incident.”


An old sign inside the NSA headquarters building
showing what kind of items are not allowed in.
(screenshot from a documentary about NSA)

Conclusion

Harold Martin stole a lot of classified documents from multiple military and intelligence agencies where he worked over the past 20 years, with maybe just a small number from NSA. The still ongoing FBI investigation has to make clear whether Martin was responsible for exposing the TAO hacking tools.

If not, then there has to be yet another careless NSA employee, but then it’s also still possible that the hacking tools came from a source responsible for a range of earlier leaks. So far it seems that Martin isn’t the source of those earlier leaks, which means that the so-called “second source” is still at large.

The case of Harold Martin also made clear that security measures at NSA, and other US agencies, were not as strict and tight as outsiders would have expected: even for someone without a strong ideological or financial drive like Martin it was apparently not that difficult to regularly walk out with top secret documents.

Many things have not yet been confirmed or clarified, but at least the Shadow Brokers leak and the subsquent arrest of Harold Martin created more awareness among the American public of the fact that there have been more leaks than just those from Snowden.

In August 2014, Bruce Schneier was probably one of the first who identified a second and a third leaker besides Snowden. Many more similar leaks followed and a full listof them was compiled on this weblog in December 2015 (still being updated). As an excerpt of this listing, a short overview of the most important non-Snowden leaks was published in The New York Times last week.

UPDATE:
Shortly after this blog posting was published, The New York Times came with a new report saying that the volume of classified documents Harold Martin had in his possesion is larger than those stolen by Edward Snowden and even than those of the Panama Papers from 2015.
FBI investigators apparently also found that the TAO hacking tools were among Martin’s documents, but because he is not very cooperative, it is still not clear how they came in the hands of the mysterious Shadow Brokers, who subsequently published them. So far there’s no evidence that Martin was hacked or that he sold information.
He seems to have hoarded all these documents in order to get better at his job, as he is described as someone who imagined himself a top spy and an important player in the world of digital espionage.

On Thursday, October 20, government lawyers said they would prosecute Harold Martin under the Espionage Act because of stealing classified information. The FBI found the huge amount of 50 terabytes of data at his home, but it is not yet clear how much of that is classified. Also foundwere “hard-copy documents that were seized from various locations during the search that comprise six full bankers’ boxes worth of documents” with “Many of the documents marked ‘Secret’ and ‘Top Secret,’ also bear special handling caveats. The information stolen by the Defendant also appears to include the personal information of government employees”.

Links and Sources

– John Schindler: It’s Time to Rename NSA the National INsecurity Agency
– The Washington Post: NSA contractor thought to have taken classified material the old-fashioned way
– Daily Beast: Democrats Say WikiLeaks Is a Russian Front, U.S. Intelligence Isn’t So Sure
– Defense One: Data-Theft Arrest Shows that Insider Threat Remains Despite Post-Snowden Security Improvements
– John Schindler: Has the Russian Mole inside NSA finally been arrested?
– New York Times: N.S.A. Suspect Is a Hoarder. But a Leaker? Investigators Aren’t Sure.
– The Cipher Brief: First on The Cipher Brief: Snowden’s Boss Shares Lessons Learned

NSA – Is the Shadow Brokers leak the latest in a series ?

Earlier this week, a group or an individual called the Shadow Brokers published a large set of files containing the computer code for hacking tools. They were said to be from the Equation Group, which is considered part of the NSA’s hacking division TAO.

The leak got quite some media attention, but so far it was not related to some earlier leaks of highly sensitive NSA documents. These show interesting similarities with the Shadow Brokers files, which were also not attributed to Edward Snowden, but seem to come from an unknown second source.

Screenshot of some computer code with instructions
from the Shadow Brokers archive

The Shadow Brokers files

Since August 13, the ShadowBrokers posted a manifesto and two large encrypted files on Pastebin, on GitHub, on Tumblr and on DropBox (the latter three closed or deleted meanwhile).

One of the encrypted files could be decrypted into a 301 MB archive containing a large number of computer codes for server side utility scripts and exploits for a variety of targets like firewalls from Cisco, Fortinet and Shaanxi. The files also include different versions of several implants and instructions on how to use them, so they’re not only the malware that could have been found on the internet, but also files that were only used internally.

A full list of the exploits in this Shadow Brokers archive can be found here.

https://musalbas.com/2016/08/16/equation-group-firewall-operations-catalogue.html

Security experts as well as former NSA employees considered the files to be authentic, and earlier today the website The Intercept came with some unpublished Snowden documents that confirm the Shadow Brokers files are real.

Besides the accessible archive, Shadow Brokers also posted a file that is still encrypted, and for which the key would only be provided to the highest bidder in an auction. Would the auction raise 1 million bitcoins (more than 500 million US dollars), then Shadow Brokers said they would release more files to the public. This auction however is likely just meant to attract attention.

Screenshot of a file tree from the Shadow Brokers archive

From the Snowden documents?

According to security experts Bruce Schneier and Nicholas Weaver the new files aren’t from the Snowden trove. Like most people, they apparently assume that Snowden took mostly powerpoint presentations and internal reports and newsletters, but that’s not the whole picture. The Snowden documents also include various kinds of operational data, but this rarely became public.

Most notable was a large set of raw communications content collected by NSA under FISA and FAA authority, which also included incidentally collected data from Americans, as was reported by The Washington Post on July 5, 2014. The Snowden documents also include technical reports, which are often very difficult to understand and rarely provide a newsworthy story on their own.

Someone reminded me as well that in January 2015, the German magazine Der Spiegel published the full computer code of a keylogger implant codenamed QWERTY, which was a component of the NSA’s WARRIORPRIDE malware framework. So with the Snowden trove containing this one piece of computer code, there’s no reason why it should not contain more.

Contradicting the option that the Shadow Brokers files could come from Snowden is the fact that some of the files have timestamps as late as October 18, 2013, which is five months after Snowden left NSA. Timestamps are easy to modify, but if they are authentic, then these files have to be from another source.

A second source?

This brings us to a number of leaks that occured in recent years and which were also not attributed to Snowden. These leaks involved highly sensitive NSA files and were often more embarrassing than stuff from the Snowden documents – for example the catalog of hacking tools and techniques, the fact that chancellor Merkel was targeted and intelligence reports proving that NSA was actually successful at that.

> See Leaked documents that were not attributed to Snowden

It is assumed that these and some other documents came from at least one other leaker, a “second source” besides Snowden, which is something that still not many people are aware of. The files that can be attributed to this second source have some interesting similarities with the Shadow Brokers leak. Like the ANT catalog published in December 2013, they are about hacking tools and like the XKEYSCORE rules published in 2014 and 2015 they are internal NSA computer code.

This alone doesn’t say much, but it’s the choice of the kind of files that makes these leaks look very similar: no fancy presentations, but plain technical data sets that make it possible to identify specific operations and individual targets – the kind of documents many people are most eager to see, but which were rarely provided through the Snowden reporting.

As mainstream media became more cautious in publishing such files, it is possible that someone who also had access to the Snowden cache went rogue and started leaking documents just for harming NSA and the US – without attributing these leaks to Snowden because he would probably not approve them, and also to suggest that more people followed Snowden’s example.

Of course the Shadow Brokers leak can still be unrelated to the earlier ones. In that case it could have been that an NSA hacker mistakenly uploaded his whole toolkit to a server outside the NSA’s secure networks (also called a “staging server” or “redirector” to mask his true location) and that someone was able to grab the files from there – an option Snowden also seems to favor.

Diagram showing the various stages and networks involved
in botnet hacking operations by NSA’s TAO division

An insider?

Meanwhile, several former NSA employees have said that the current Shadow Brokers leak might not be the result of a hack from the outside, but that it’s more likely that the files come from an insider, who stole them like Snowden did earlier.

Of course it’s easier for an insider to grab these files than for a foreign intelligence agency, let alone an ordinary hacker, to steal them from the outside. But if that’s the case, it would mean that this insider would still be able to exfiltrate files from NSA premises (something that shouldn’t be possible anymore after Snowden), and that this insider has the intent to embarrass and harm the NSA (Snowden at least said he just wanted to expose serious wrongdoings).

Here we should keep in mind that such an insider is not necessarily just a frustrated individual, but can also be a mole from a hostile foreign intelligence agency.

Russian intelligence?

On Twitter, Edward Snowden said that “Circumstantial evidence and conventional wisdom indicates Russian responsibility”, but it’s not clear what that evidence should be. It seems he sees this leak as a kind of warning from the Russians not to take revenge for the hack of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) e-mails, which was attributed to Russian intelligence.

This was also what led Bruce Schneier to think it might be the Russians, because who other than a state actor would steal so much data and wait three years before publishing? Not mentioned by Schneier is that this also applies to the documents that can be attributed to the second source: they are also from before June 2013.

A related point of speculation is the text that accompanied the Shadow Brokers files, which is in bad English, as if it was written by a Russian or some other non-western individual. This is probably distraction, as it looks much more like a fluent American/English speaker who tried to imitate unexperienced English.

The text also holds accusations against “Elites”, in a style which very much resembles the language used by anarchist hacker groups, but that can also be faked to distract from the real source.

Screenshot of some file folders from the Shadow Brokers archive

Conclusion

With the authenticity of the Shadow Brokers files being confirmed, the biggest question is: who leaked them? There’s a small chance that it was a stupid accident in which an NSA hacker uploaded his whole toolkit to a non-secure server and someone (Russians?) found it there.

Somewhat more likely seems the option that they came from an insider, and in that case, this leak doesn’t stand alone, but fits into a series of leaks in which, since October 2013, highly sensitive NSA data sets were published.

So almost unnoticed by the mainstream media and the general public, someone was piggybacking on the Snowden-revelations with leaks that were often more embarrassing for NSA than many reportings based upon the documents from Snowden.

Again, obtaining such documents through hacking into highly secured NSA servers seems less likely than the chance that someone from inside the agency took them. If that person was Edward Snowden, then probably someone with access to his documents could have started his own crusade against NSA.

If that person wasn’t Snowden, then it’s either another NSA employee who was disgruntled and frustrated, or a mole for a hostile foreign intelligence agency. For an individual without the protection of the public opinion like Snowden, it must be much harder and riskier to conduct these leaks than for a foreign state actor.

Former NSA counterintelligence officer John Schindler also thinks there could have been a (Russian) mole, as the agency has a rather bad track record in finding such spies. If this scenario is true, then it would be almost an even bigger scandal than that of the Snowden-leaks.

Update:
On August 21, NSA expert James Bamford also confirmed that TAO’s ANT catalog wasn’t included in the Snowden documents (Snowden didn’t want to talk about it publicly though). Bamford favors the option of a second insider, who may have leaked the documents through Jacob Appelbaum and Julian Assange.