Snowden Leaks May be ‘Lethal’ for Troops: Lawmakers
WASHINGTON – Fugitive intelligence contractor Edward Snowden’s theft of 1.7 million secret documents could potentially put US military forces in “lethal” danger worldwide, American lawmakers warned Thursday citing a confidential Pentagon report.
The Defense Department prepared and sent to prominent members of Congress a classified paper analyzing the potential impact of revelations by the former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor. The report itself was not made public.
Snowden has disclosed details of US intelligence-gathering operations, but the lawmakers warned that Snowden’s illegal haul includes a large amount of classified military data.
“This report confirms my greatest fears — Snowden’s real acts of betrayal place America’s military men and women at greater risk,” House Intelligence Committee chairman Mike Rogers said in a joint statement with top committee Democrat Dutch Ruppersberger.
The actions by Snowden, who is currently in Moscow where he has found temporary asylum, “are likely to have lethal consequences for our troops in the field,” Rogers added.
Snowden and his supporters argue that his revelation of details of secret US programs that hoover up vast amounts of telephone and Internet data on virtually every American was merely a mission to defend civil liberties.
The disclosures have triggered a monumental debate in the United States over the balance between personal freedoms and fighting terrorism, but have also sparked uproar against Washington amid revelations the NSA had tapped mobile phones of world leaders including that of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
While the global media has zeroed in on the intelligence collection, the congressmen insisted that many documents scooped up by Snowden contain “vital” military operational details which could cause “irreparable harm” if they are obtained by US enemies.
“Snowden handed terrorists a copy of our country’s playbook and now we are paying the price,” Ruppersberger said.
“We have begun to see terrorists changing their methods because of the leaks and this report indicates that the harm to our country and its citizens will only continue to endure.”
The lawmakers’ reaction to the report came on the same day President Barack Obama met with US lawmakers, including critics of the NSA surveillance operations, to discuss possible reforms to the programs.
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