In the six months since former NSA contractor Edward Snowden pulled off one of the worst intelligence breaches in American history, several government agencies have tried to gauge the damage. The Pentagon has come up with the first formal assessment, and it’s chilling.
According to the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency, Snowden copied 1.7 million intelligence files, nearly double the highest previous estimate. The exposure of the National Security Agency’s telephony metadata collection—the time, length and destination but not the substance of calls made in the U.S. — and Internet surveillance programs have gotten the most attention. But the Pentagon found that most of the stolen documents concern and potentially compromise ongoing military operations.
The Snowden documents could “gravely impact” U.S. national security and put “defense personnel in harm’s way and jeopardize the success of current [Department of Defense] operations,” the Pentagon report says. Snowden, who fled to Hong Kong in May and got asylum in Russia last summer, provided copies of the files to select journalists. He denies he shared anything with China and Russia, but it’s hard to believe the word of an admitted thief.
Already the leaks have undermined America’s fight against al Qaeda. “Snowden handed terrorists a copy of our country’s playbook and now we are paying the price,” Mr. 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.”