Did Snowden have help from Russian spies?
In what is either an explosive revelation or a reckless charge, the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee is suggesting on Meet the Press today that Edward Snowden had help from Russian spies. Joel Gehrke of The Examiner writes:
"This was a thief, who we believe had some help, who stole information the vast majority had nothing to do with privacy." Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., who heads up the intel panel, told NBC's "Meet the Press" in an interview that will air Sunday. "Our Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines have been incredibly harmed by the data that he has taken with him and we believe now is in the hands of nation-states." NBC released an excerpt of the interview late Saturday.
Rogers seems to be arguing not from secret information about actual contact with Russian agents, but merely looking through the analytical of cui bono? - who benefits? That is suggestive, not dispositive.
"First of all, if it was a privacy concern he had, he didn't look for information on the privacy side for Americans," Rogers explained. "He was stealing information that had to do with how we operate overseas to collect information to keep Americans safe. That begs the question. And some of the things he did were beyond his technical capabilities. Raises more questions. How he arranged travel before he left. How he was ready to go, he had a 'go bag,' if you will."
Rogers added that he "believe[s] there's a reason he ended up in the hands, the loving arms, of an FSB agent in Moscow. I don't think that's a coincidence."
Snowden remains a puzzle. There are a lot of factors about him that don't readily fit together into a coherent package, which suggests that some relevant facts are missing. My colleague Rick Moran suggests that if Snowden did have help from the Russians, he may have been so naïve as to not have realized it. The fact that he first fled to Hong Kong is a little confusing, indicating that he gave the Chinese first shot at his treasure trove of data. Of course, fleeing hopping a nonstop flight out of Honolulu will not take you to Moscow, but it will get you to Hong Kong, outside the ability of the United States to prevail upon local authorities to take on into custody.
Then there is the small matter of his live-in stripper pole-dancing girlfriend, left behind, and apparently in the lurch. Not that many nerdy guys plan ahead to acquire and then ditch a very flexible hottie, leaving behind a home in a tropical paradise in favor of a winter in Moscow. Maybe this indicates a guy who didn't think through his plans very well. Or maybe it indicates ice water in his veins.
What is becoming clearer is that he has done a lot of damage to our intelligence services, and the ultimate price of that remains to be seen.