What could have been the motivation for Snowden to become the whistleblower? This question intrigued many ever since Edward Snowden, the ex-NSA contractor, leaked intelligence documents and sought asylum in Moscow.
Two of the top intelligence officials of the US intelligence community share a common thinking on this question. Rep. Mike Rogers, chairperson of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and Sen. Dienne Feinstein, chairperson of the Senate, are of the opinion that the Russian government may have influenced actions of Snowden.
Rogers sincerely believes that Snowden had a foreign assistance in spying and an investigation is ongoing to confirm that. “I believe 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,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” referring to the Russian Counterintelligence services.
He has a base to support his theory—Snowden fled to Hongkong and then to Russia last year, where he was granted asylum till July 31, 2014. His legal status in Russia prohibits US authorities reaching to him unless he decides to reach them. Besides, he stole information that had nothing to do with privacy.
“When you look at the totality of the information he took, the vast majority of it had to do with military, tactical and operational events happening around the world,” he said.
“Our Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines have been incredibly harmed from the data he has taken with him, and we believe now is in the hands of nation states,” he said.
Sen. Feinstein echoed the views expressed by Rogers, though not that affirmatively as Rogers himself. “He may well have. We don’t know at this stage,” she commented when asked about the possibility of Snowden working per instructions of Russians on the same program.
Roger is not alone in speculating such theories. His assessments were backed by the former Deputy CIA Director, Michael Morell, on CBS’s “Face the Nation” program. Morell said too sophisticated nature of Snowden’s revelations makes one believe that he had guidance from a foreign hand, possibly the Russian government.
Rep. Mike McCaul, House Homeland Security Committee chairman also expressed agreement with Roger’s views when speaking on “This Week”. He said Snowden could not have pulled off the theft alone and the pointers such as pre-planned travel and fleeing with a “go-bag” place definitely indicate that there is more news to what is visible.
“I don’t think…Mr. Snowden woke up one day and had the wherewithal to do this all by himself. I think he was helped by others,” he said.
“I personally believe that he was cultivated by a foreign power to do what he did. And he — I would submit, again, that he’s not a hero by any stretch. He’s a traitor. He — he lives not very far down the street from where I am right now, enjoying probably less freedoms today here in Russia than he had in the United States of America,” he added further.
There are no evidence of any clear connection between Snowden and Russia yet. An unnamed NSA official told Reuters that the US has no evidence that “Snowden had any confederates who assisted him or guided him about what NSA materials to hack or how to do so.”
How true these allegations are yet to be known or could it be a new melodrama into offing remaining to be unfolded as US tries to deal with national and international shame and outrage!