Hundreds of internal NSA documents obtained by Vice News under a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit “show that the agency did not tell the public the whole story about Snowden’s contacts with oversight authorities before he became the most celebrated and vilified whistleblower in US history.”
For years the agency has pushed a “single email” story, which holds that Snowden went no further in addressing concerns about surveillance to NSA officials than sending a single message in which he asked questions about the “interpretation of legal authorities” related to the agency’s programs.
In the NSA’s view, this email was supposed to demonstrate that Snowden did not make full use of internal means of airing grievances before going to journalists.
But the newly declassified internal documents, write Vice reporters Jason Leopold, Marcy Wheeler and Ky Henderson, “reveal now for the first time that not only was the truth about the ‘single email’ more complex and nuanced than the NSA disclosed to the public, but that Snowden had a face-to-face interaction with one of the people involved in responding to that email. The documents, made up of emails, talking points, and various records — many of them heavily redacted — contain insight into the NSA’s interaction with the media, new details about Snowden’s work, and an extraordinary behind-the-scenes look at the efforts by the NSA, the White House, and U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein to discredit Snowden.”
“The trove of more than 800 pages … along with several interviews conducted by VICE News, offer unprecedented insight into the NSA during this time of crisis within the agency. And they call into question aspects of the U.S. government’s long-running narrative about Snowden’s time at the NSA.”