(NationalSecurity.news) A top British intelligence expert and a new report both claim that former NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s massive leaks were “reckless” acts that only helped terrorists, child abusers, human traffickers and others conceal their “vile” crimes.
Lord Alex Carlile, the UK government’s former independent reviewer of anti-terrorism legislation, said the leaks have made it much easier for global forces of evil to operate without detection because Snowden, currently a fugitive from the U.S. government living in Russia, exposed the NSA’s routine violations of Americans’ right to privacy, the Daily Mail reported.
Speaking at the introduction of an important new study into the damage done to Britain’s intelligence services by the revelations, Carlile also lashed out at newspapers, including the UK’s Guardian, which worked closely with Snowden, for “irresponsibly” publishing the top-secret tactics.
Snowden stole some 1.7 million classified files from one of Britain’s spy agencies, the GCHQ, as well as the NSA, and in doing so significantly hampered both agencies’ ability to identify and stop jihadists, pedophiles and organized criminal gangs, he claimed.
In addition, the disclosures have dramatically altered the manner in which terror suspects and international criminals – not to mention competitor nations – operate and communicate. Encrypted emails are now more difficult to decode, and operations by U.S. and British spies have been stopped out of fear of being uncovered, a report tied to the study said.
“I do not have any objection to journalists exposing scandals at all. I do object very strongly to the damage which has been done because of the way Snowden’s revelations have been used by some of the media,” Carlile said.
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“Terrorists, traffickers and abusers of children have been facilitated by these revelations. Those who take part in these vile activities have learned from these revelations how not to be found out.”
The study, conducted by the Henry Jackson Society, a neoconservative think tank that advocates for military intervention in the Middle East to protect oil industry interests, made vast assumptions in order to claim that lives were put in danger by Snowden, who stole the documents in 2013 while working at the NSA.
According to the report itself, the claims coming from it are “based on the assumption that Snowden’s master file contained data from every network he scanned, and that America’s adversaries either possess this file or will do so eventually.” The report’s statements are based on an imagined “worst-case scenario: the assumption that everything which Snowden touched was stolen.” Despite years of suggesting this possibility and attacking Snowden in the media, surveillance state proponents have yet to provide any evidence that this was the case.
The 81-page report drew heavily from senior security officials, the Daily Mail reported, who claim that extremists – including those from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS – had changed their tactics after the leaks. Of course, the report also concluded that Britain’s spy agencies – GCHQ, MI5 and MI6 – needed greater authority to monitor citizens and to intercept their communications in order to keep the nation safe. Unfortunately, the report failed to mention that the governments’ routine violation of civil liberties is what prompted Snowden to leak the documents.
“There is a significant problem regarding governments’ diminishing ability to access communications data,” report author Robin Simcox said.
According to the Daily Mail, Simcox found that, following the Snowden leaks, at least three al Qaeda-linked terror organizations changed the way they communicate, in order to avoid detection.
Also, the report noted that extremist websites had begun to protect their digital communications as well by releasing encryption programs for followers. And jihadist videos passed along tips about how adherents could avoid surveillance and detection.
The report also noted that the spy technique revelations had “polluted ongoing operations, due to fear of discovery” – which means that field operatives might have been put at risk of exposure, so certain intelligence-gathering operations were shuttered.
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The report, called Surveillance After Snowden, also warned that Internet firms had become increasingly uncooperative with security service requests for information on private communications.
“No-one wants to live in a surveillance state like Russia or China. We should always be protective of our privacy. But freedoms depend on us having security,” said Simcox.
“Ultimately, Snowden only exposed that our agencies are essentially doing what we ask: they are not spying on the phone calls of ordinary citizens or brazenly looking at our e-mails,” the report claims, despite intelligence agencies secretly gathering Americans’ communication en masse and without court-approved search warrants as required by the Constitution. “[T]hey are legally intercepting certain communications in an attempt to advance the national interest.”
“[T]he state giving up these powers invites attack from terrorists; cyber criminals; or a host of other state and non-state actors.” The report further castigated Snowden’s whistle-blowing as “wildly reckless and irresponsible.”