On September 15, 2016, the House of Representatives’ Intelligence Committee released its summary findings of a two-year investigation concerning the unauthorized disclosures made by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden. A copy of the unclassified executive summary can be found here.
The Committee report begins by noting that, in June 2013, Snowden “perpetrated the largest and most damaging public release of classified information in U.S. intelligence history.” Beginning in August 2014, the House Intelligence Committee commenced its two-year review of the unauthorized disclosures. The aim of the review, according to the report, was to “allow the Committee to explain to other members of Congress—and, where possible, the American people—how this breach occurred, what the U.S. Government knows about the man who committed it, and whether the security shortfalls it highlighted have been remedied.”
The summary goes on to note that the Committee’s review focused on “Snowden’s background, how he was able to remove more than 1.5 million classified documents from secure NSA networks, what the 1.5 million documents contained, and the damage their removal caused to national security.”
The summary explains that the bulk of the 36-page final report must remain classified to avoid further harm to national security. It does, however, set forth five key, unclassified findings, as follows:
Snowden caused tremendous damage to national security, and the vast majority of the documents he stole have nothing to do with programs impacting individual privacy interests—they instead pertain to military, defense and intelligence programs of great interest to Americas’ adversaries;
Snowden was not a whistleblower;
Two weeks before Snowden began mass downloads of classified documents, he was reprimanded after engaging in a workplace spat with NSA managers;
Snowden was, and remains, a serial exaggerator and fabricator; and
The Committee remains concerned that more than three years after the start of unauthorized disclosures, NSA, and the Intelligence Community as a whole, have not done enough to minimize the risk of another massive unauthorized disclosure.
In a separate but related action, also on September 15, members of the House Intelligence Committee sent President Obama a letter strongly urging that Snowden not be pardoned for his actions.
Stay tuned for further developments.