The case that Snowden was an espionage agent

A lot of people, from Ron Paul to the Pulitzer Prize committee, have staked their reputations on the conviction that Edward Snowden was a public-spirited whistleblower. But what if they are wrong, and he was from the start an espionage agent of a foreign power (most likely Russia) who used the domestic spying revelations as cover?

Edward Jay Epstein is an investigative  writer of the highest standing, a man given to careful examination and analysis of the facts, and he presents a disturbingly strong case in the Wall Street Journal  that Snowden was operating as an agent. The entire piece should be read, but here is an excerpt that is most telling, in my opinion:

The chronology of Mr. Snowden's thefts suggests that a top priority was lists of the computers of U.S. adversaries abroad that the NSA had succeeded in penetrating. Mr. Snowden confirmed this priority in October 2013, when he told James Risen of the New York Times NYT +3.29% that his "last job" at the NSA—the job he took on March 15, 2013, with outside contractor Booz Allen Hamilton—gave him, as Mr. Snowden said, "access to every target, every active operation" mounted by the NSA against the Chinese. Soon after Mr. Snowden fled to Hong Kong in May 2013, he told Lana Lam of the South China Morning Post that his new job gave him access to the lists of machines in China, Hong Kong and elsewhere that "the NSA hacked. That is why I accepted that position about three months ago."

Mr. Snowden took the Booz Allen Hamilton job in March of 2013, but it was only at the tail end of his operation—in May—that he copied the document (possibly the only one) that specifically authorized the NSA's controversial domestic surveillance program. This was a Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Act court order, instructing Verizon to provide metadata on U.S. phone calls for 90 days, that Mr. Snowden gave to the Guardian newspaper in London on June 3, 2013. (He also leaked a secret presentation in slides about the NSA's Prism Internet surveillance. This program, operated with the FBI, targeted only foreigners, though it could be extended, with the approval of the attorney general, to suspects in the U.S. in contact with foreign targets.)

Contrary to Mr. Snowden's account, the document he stole about the NSA's domestic surveillance couldn't have been part of any whistleblowing plan when he transferred to Booz Allen Hamilton in March of 2013. Why? Among other reasons, because the order he took was only issued by the FISA court on April 26, 2013.

Read the whole thing. If Epstein is correct, there shoudl (but won't) be a lot of red faces.

Hat tip: Cliff Thier