NSA defector Edward Snowden and those who front for him claim he left all of his purloined information with journalists and has provided no classified materials to the Russian or Chinese intelligence services. Snowden also claims that the Russians have never asked him for information. [INSERT GUFFAWS HERE.] Now that we've all finished laughing, let's take a look at some facts and draw some conclusions.
If Snowden is not telling the truth about providing US secrets to the Russians, we can speculate that such a claim is an excellent way for Russian president Vladimir Putin to distance himself from revelations derived from the materials and play the innocent by-stander. This is what we used to call "plausible denial." In the meantime, "reporting" painstakingly designed to drive wedges between the U.S. and its allies and create havoc within the U.S. Intelligence Community, continue to make the front pages.
The results have been predictable. Protests from foreign leaders, such as Germany's Angela Merkel or France's Fran?ois Holland rise skyward like so much hot air. Given the activities of their own intelligence services, such protests give hypocrisy a bad name. Even worse have been the reactions of America's chattering and political classes that seem to lack the wisdom to defend their own country's interests, or even to recognize them as they join in a self-destructive feeding frenzy - just exactly what "Forbes" new "most powerful man," Vlad Putin, might wish for.
The Russians are past masters at deception and misdirection. Russian intelligence services from the Tsar's Okhrana to today's SVR, FSB, and GRU have run highly effective "disinformation" campaigns throughout the world for over a century now: from the ingenuity of the Comintern's propaganda master Willi Muenzenberg (See interviews with Kent Clizbe) to the perversion of Hollywood by Otto Katz to the KGB creation of the 1990's myth that the CIA created and spread the AIDS virus in Africa. So what could they be up to now?
John Schindler, writing on November 5, 2013 for "The XX Committee," an intelligence oriented website, correctly notes that to "' anyone versed in counterintelligence, specifically the modus operandi of Russian security services, the Snowden Operation ' is a classic case of Active Measures, in other words a secret propaganda job. That its ultimate objective is fracturing the Western security and intelligence alliance is made increasing clear in the tone of the reporting coming from the Operation '. Relying on fronts, cut-outs, "independent" journalists, plus platoons of what Lenin memorably termed Useful Idiots, is just what the Kremlin's intelligence services do when they want to engage in Active Measures. We've been down this road before ' in many ways what's going on now is merely a replay of the operational game from the 1970s based on the CIA defector Phil Agee (KGB cover name: PONT), but with broadband access ' yet the Snowden Operation is unusually successful and brazen, even by Moscow's high standards in this regard."
Precisely. But let's look at some related aspects of the case. Let's consider the relationship between Julian Assange and Moscow. Last August, the excellent researcher Michael Kelly, writing for the "Business Insider" website, cited the following timeline worked out by former senior U.S. intelligence analyst Joshua Foust:
November 2, 2010: An official at the Center for Information Security of the FSB, Russia's secret police, told the independent Russian news website LifeNews "It's essential to remember that given the will and the relevant orders, [WikiLeaks] can be made inaccessible forever."
December, 2010: Israel Shamir, a long-standing associate of Wikileaks traveled to Belarus, a close ally of Russia, in December with a cache of Wikileaks files. Belarussian authorities published the cables and cracked down, harshly, on pro-democracy activists.
April 17, 2012: Government-funded Russian TV station RT gives [WikiLeaks founder] Julian Assange his own talk show.
June 23, 2013: Izvestia, a [formerly] state-owned Russian newspaper, writes that the Kremlin and its intelligence services collaborated with Wikileaks to help Snowden escape from Hong Kong (Wikileaks did not mention any official involvement in Snowden's departure from Hong Kong in their press statements).
One story is that in 2010 Assange made the mistake of threatening to make public certain information he had acquired regarding official corruption in Russia. The chilling quote from the FSB, cited by Foust, no doubt gave him second thoughts. The Russians have a demonstrated capability and willingness to "deal" with people who rub them the wrong way. Julian Assange debuted his own Russian TV show, "The World Tomorrow," on the Russian state funded network RT not long thereafter. This suggests that there is a working relationship between Wikileaks and Russian intelligence, perhaps dating from 2010, something seemingly confirmed by the Russians themselves in the above-cited Izvestia report.
Edward Joseph Snowden (born 1983) is an American technical contractor, whistleblower and former United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) employee who worked as a contractor for the National Security Agency (NSA). Snowden released classified material on top-secret NSA programs including the PRISM surveillance program to the press. | Photo: |
I have long suspected that Snowden's journey to Moscow was facilitated and financed by others according to a carefully elaborated plan. According to Anna Nemtsova of "Foreign Policy," a gaggle of Russian officials, "supposedly FSB agents," was on hand to greet Snowden at the airport in Moscow.
Then there is the notoriously left-wing British newspaper, "The Guardian," which is never shy about printing anti-American pieces. This newspaper, the reporters involved, a German film maker (Poitros), and Assange's closest collaborator (Sarah Harrison), seem the most likely accomplices in Snowden's defection. It also should be noted that Snowden's Russian lawyer, Anatoliy Kucharena, is connected to Russian intelligence.
Did Snowden conceive of his plan to steal classified information from his employers some years ago, perhaps following his dismissal from his CIA job? That kind of thing creates a grudge. It's also possible, given the way his defection unfolded, that he was not working alone all of this time. Was he recruited or co-opted by Russian intelligence somewhere along the way? That's a question to which we won't have the answer until a Russian defector comes our way whose information can be made public.
In the meantime, the flow of "revelations" harmful to U.S. interests continues unabated. But, if we accept the foregoing speculation as viable, i.e. that these "revelations" are orchestrated by Russian intelligence, how do the vocal critics of NSA operations know that the documents thus far made public are entirely authentic or accurate? Might they have been "enhanced" by Moscow's propagandists?
It's something to think about.