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Commentary on Edward Snowden's disclosure

Commentary on Edward Snowden's disclosure is part of the Reactions to global surveillance disclosures made by Edward Snowden.

On June 8, 2013, Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James R. Clapper denounced as "reckless" the disclosures of "intelligence community measures used to keep Americans safe." He condemned the leaks as having done "huge, grave damage" to the U.S. intelligence capabilities.

Later that month, U.S. President Barack Obama was dismissive of Snowden, saying, "I'm not going to be scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker." In early August, Obama said that Snowden was no patriot and that Americans would have been better off if they had remained unaware of the NSA surveillance activities that Snowden revealed. Obama also said that he had "called for a thorough review of our surveillance operations before Mr. Snowden made these leaks.... My preference, and I think the American people's preference, would have been for a lawful, orderly examination of these laws; a thoughtful fact-based debate that would then lead us to a better place."

On August 4, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey said on the weekly ABC interview show This Week that Snowden "has caused us some considerable damage to our intelligence architecture. Our adversaries are changing the way that they communicate."

In September, DNI Clapper acknowledged that Snowden may have done a public service and started a needed debate about the balance between privacy and security. "As loath as I am to give any credit for what's happened here, which was egregious, I think it's clear that some of the conversations that this has generated, some of the debate, actually probably needed to happen," he said. "It's unfortunate they didn't happen some time ago, but if there's a good side to this, that's it."

On January 29, 2014, DNI Clapper gave public testimony to a session of the Senate Intelligence Committee. He asked that "Snowden and his accomplices" return the purloined NSA documents. When Clapper was asked whether the word "accomplices" referred to journalists, Clapper's spokesperson Shawn Turner responded, "Director Clapper was referring to anyone who is assisting Edward Snowden to further threaten our national security through the unauthorized disclosure of stolen documents related to lawful foreign intelligence collection programs."



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