The U.S. Department of Defense’s investigation into the intelligence leaks by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden is leading further toward the possibility Snowden was a spy working for the Chinese or Russian government, according to a senior DOD official with ties to the inquiry.
“Snowden specifically exhibited a pattern of behavior indicative of someone who had extensive tradecraft training in espionage,” the official, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the investigation, told The Daily Caller.
Despite Snowden’s recent claims on his first U.S. network television interview Wednesday with NBC’s Brian Williams that he was “trained as a spy” and stationed overseas under a false name and occupation, the official said such measures were standard procedure for all CIA and NSA communicators and technicians abroad.
That indicates the adept espionage tradecraft the ex-contractor demonstrated when he downloaded thousands of classified documents detailing secret surveillance and defense programs, fled the country, handed them off to journalists and escaped notice even after the first leaks began, all came from somewhere else.
Distinguished and longtime former CIA field officer Robert Baer made similar speculation on the BBC’s “Today” program Thursday, and said that Snowden’s positions within CIA and NSA did not make him a spy. According to Baer, Snowden relayed messages and served as an embassy technician in his CIA and NSA postings overseas.
Baer similarly speculated that Snowden had been tapped by Russia as early as 2007 while stationed in Geneva.
“I can’t prove it. But this was such a brilliant operation,” Baer said. “And his landing in Moscow just makes old Cold War warriors like me very suspicious.”
Beyond the expanded training Snowden seemingly exhibited and wouldn’t have received from the U.S. government, the intelligence he stole appears to go far beyond the bulk surveillance programs leaked so far.
“[Snowden] specifically sought out jobs to give him ever expanding access to intelligence information that have nothing to do with programs that either collected on American citizens or violated their Fourth Amendment rights,” the DOD official told TheDC.
“The size and scope of collection he engaged in was so large he couldn’t have possibly known what he was taking, which is again a counter intelligence indicator that he was engaged in espionage. When the number of files he stole is in the millions or billions, it’s humanly impossible for him to know what he was passing because he wouldn’t have had time to read the documents themselves.”
(The official noted that the number of “files” taken is not indicative of the number of individual “pages” within each.)