Snowden still has 1.7 million docs. NSA considering amnesty.

posted at 5:01 pm on December 14, 2013 by Jazz Shaw

Is the long, drawn out saga of Edward Snowden heading toward a very unexpected conclusion? There are new reports coming out this weekend claiming that the “tens of thousands” of classified documents that Snowden made off with may actually number more than 1.5 million, and all of them are currently sitting somewhere in Russia. This apparently has some – though not all – of the brass at the NSA thinking that just maybe we need to offer amnesty to the thief just to get him (and more importantly, the intelligence data) back on US soil.

CBS News learned Thursday that the information National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden has revealed so far is just a fraction of what he has. In fact, he has so much, some think it is worth giving him amnesty to get it back.

Rick Ledgett is the man who was put in charge of the Snowden leak task force by Gen. Keith Alexander, who heads the NSA. The task force’s job is to prevent another leak like this one from happening again. They’re also trying to figure out how much damage the Snowden leaks have done, and how much damage they could still do.

Snowden, who is believed to still have access to 1.5 million classified documents he has not leaked, has been granted temporary asylum in Moscow, which leaves the U.S. with few options.

Ledgett isn’t coming right out and saying that amnesty is the right move, but he’s willing to say that, “it’s worth having a conversation about.” Given the inflammatory nature of the entire Snowden story and the prospects of letting him walk scott free after what he’s confessed to doing, that’s about as close to an endorsement as you’re likely to see. It’s apparently a balance between the damage already done, the potential damage yet to come, and the backlash against letting him get away with it.

At Business Insider, Michael Kelley sees trouble brewing on the horizon.

All of this points to an nightmare situation for the U.S., and potentially for civilians in other countries.

The man in charge of the Snowden leak task force told CBS that he would be in favor of granting Snowden amnesty if rest of the data could be secured, and a former NSA director suggested the agency leak it all.

Citizens in Russia and China — who already live under oppressive surveillance — may also become victims of the leak if parts of the blueprints of the world’s largest spy apparatus were used against them.

The potential damage goes well beyond spying on citizens (i.e., Snowden’s stated focus): Last month The Washington Post reported that U.S. officials believe Snowden took 30,000 U.S. documents that do “not deal with NSA surveillance but primarily with standard intelligence about other countries’ military capabilities, including weapons systems.”

I don’t believe Kelley is overstating the potential danger and damages, but I do have to wonder if the proposed solution of bringing Snowden back home with the promise of freedom really does anything to ameliorate the threat. It seems as if this sort of deal with the Devil – were we to even consider it – would have needed to have been made while Snowden was still on the plane to Hong Kong. At this point, there are two potential avenues where all or most of the damaging intelligence winds up where we don’t want it.

Do we still really have any clue how much more of the stolen data is sitting with Glenn Greenwald and his buddies? As long as that represents increased traffic for his paper, the material will still be coming out. And possibly far worse, what are the odds at this point that the Russians don’t already have the files? If that’s the case, the damage is done and offering a pass to Snowden doesn’t seem like it really gets us anything in exchange.

Here’s a short video preview of the report coming up on Sunday.


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The NSA ought to concern themselves with the mole on the inside. No way an outside contractor pulled this off without help.

John the Libertarian on December 14, 2013 at 5:07 PM

I think he must spend some jailtime. I am not against a plea deal for a shorter sentence if it gets these documents back. However i am sure the Russians have gotten their hands on them.

gerrym51 on December 14, 2013 at 5:09 PM

This apparently has some – though not all – of the brass at the NSA thinking that just maybe we need to offer amnesty to the thief just to get him (and more importantly, the intelligence data) back on US soil.

No chance in hell of that happening.

BallisticBob on December 14, 2013 at 5:09 PM

of the brass at the NSA thinking that just maybe we need to offer amnesty to the thief just to get him (and more importantly, the intelligence data) back on US soil.

If that is true and not just idle speculation, he got away with some serious $hit and they finally have narrowed down just what he might have. And there is no way they want it getting out.

Johnnyreb on December 14, 2013 at 5:15 PM

“the prospects of letting him walk scott free after what he’s confessed to doing,….”

Thank God he did what he “confessed to doing.” Otherwise we wouldn’t know how badly our own government has violated the CONSTITUTION of the United States. What they’ve done is outrageous; what Snowden did is tell us what they’ve done. Don’t kill the messenger.

mountainaires on December 14, 2013 at 5:16 PM

and what does Greenwald say?

NavyMustang on December 14, 2013 at 5:16 PM

Since it’s obvious that the administration has no real idea of exactly how many documents are in Snowden’s possession, or exactly which documents are in Snowden’s possession, Snowden would be prudent to put aside a few of the most damning and accept the amnesty for the rest of them.

However, if Snowden were prudent, he should remain somewhere he’s relatively safe, even after accepting this ‘amnesty’…since I don’t think his safety could be assured in the United States or many other parts of the world. Frankly, I fear he’d fall victim to ‘The Chicago Way’, sooner or later.

thatsafactjack on December 14, 2013 at 5:17 PM

The NSA ought to concern themselves with the mole on the inside. No way an outside contractor pulled this off without help.

John the Libertarian on December 14, 2013 at 5:07 PM

Agreed.

davidk on December 14, 2013 at 5:19 PM

Does anybody here think Snowden is going to be distracted by this shiny object? Do pigs fly?

NSA is scheming to deceive somebody. The boss lies to Congress and the underlings are pious & pure?

Slow news day.

platypus on December 14, 2013 at 5:20 PM

Whatever Snowden has, the Russians will have. I mean..Come on!.. Putin et.al are just going to let it go?? Thats funny stuff right there.

Mimzey on December 14, 2013 at 5:20 PM

Rick Ledgett is the man who was put in charge of the Snowden leak task force by Gen. Keith Alexander, who heads the NSA. The task force’s job is to prevent another leak like this one from happening again. They’re also trying to figure out how much damage the Snowden leaks have done, and how much damage they could still do

…I have even more confidence now…that a dam will burst!

KOOLAID2 on December 14, 2013 at 5:20 PM

Whatever Snowden has, the Russians will have. I mean..Come on!.. Putin et.al are just going to let it go?? Thats funny stuff right there.

Mimzey on December 14, 2013 at 5:20 PM

Yep. And who knows what the Chinese have, too.

BallisticBob on December 14, 2013 at 5:24 PM

That horse is already out of the barn.

HopeHeFails on December 14, 2013 at 5:26 PM

Oh, and just to be clear, we don’t know what Snowden knows. We still have no idea what specific information came to his attention that triggered his determination to access and keep a couple of million secret documents and cast his own future and personal comfort to the winds of fate.

Is he a traitor determined to undermine this nation on a global basis? I don’t know. Is he a reluctant hero, a man who realized that this nation was committed to an intelligence program that, in his estimation at least, had gone rogue and felt he had to expose the intelligence community? I don’t know… because I don’t know what Snowden knows… or what’s in those documents.

It is also possible that Putin has no idea of exactly what Snowden knows, or of all of the documents that are in Snowden’s possession, just as our own intelligence community has no way of knowing. If Snowden were prudent, he would have several critical documents held in reserve… from everyone…as an insurance policy on his own life. Does he? I don’t know.

Is Snowden a prudent man? Time will tell.

thatsafactjack on December 14, 2013 at 5:32 PM

The NSA ought to concern themselves with the mole on the inside. No way an outside contractor pulled this off without help.

John the Libertarian on December 14, 2013 at 5:07 PM

Normally I’d agree with you but your statement assumes a certain level of competence in how their security systems were set up though. If they were set up foolishly — cough healthcare.gov cough — then it’s ENTIRELY possible that a contractor with access to their control systems could download virtually anything.

Think about Snowden and Bradley Manning. In both cases they exploited systems that didn’t have the basic level of sniff-test intelligence to know that no legitimate user / terminal / location / etc could possibly need to download more than say 20 documents in a given day. So now how confident are you that they were protected from a contractor doing what Snowden did?

SoRight on December 14, 2013 at 5:32 PM

However, if Snowden were prudent, he should remain somewhere he’s relatively safe, even after accepting this ‘amnesty’…since I don’t think his safety could be assured in the United States or many other parts of the world. Frankly, I fear he’d fall victim to ‘The Chicago Way’, sooner or later.

thatsafactjack on December 14, 2013 at 5:17 PM

No doubt about that. Promises from this Third World regime are worthless at best, and often counter-indicative of true intent.

However criminally guilty he may be, I’m glad he let us know how out of control our government actually has become.

And damn those in Congress, GOP and Dems, who were too cowardly/lazy/incompetent to tell us first.

petefrt on December 14, 2013 at 5:42 PM

The NSA needs a major house cleaning. The Snowden thing never would have happened if the NSA concerned themselves more with security instead of the phone calls of people like Merkel.

This is what happens when you expand too fast, have too much money, and too little oversight. Until we have real oversight of the NSA by competent people and clean out all the losers who allowed this to happen, federal employees and contractors, this will continue to happen.

Personally I think the NSA should be put under the control of the CIA OR the military (like Cyber Command) and their mission refocused on what they are supposed to do. That is gain useful intelligence from foreign nations that are dangerous to the U.S., not play domestic nanny.

William Eaton on December 14, 2013 at 5:42 PM

Whatever Snowden has, the Russians will have. I mean..Come on!.. Putin et.al are just going to let it go?? Thats funny stuff right there.

Mimzey on December 14, 2013 at 5:20 PM

Yep. And who knows what the Chinese have, too.

BallisticBob on December 14, 2013 at 5:24 PM

Don’t forget, everything Snowden has been doing is motivated by a love for the US – don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!

Anti-Control on December 14, 2013 at 5:45 PM

NSA considering amnesty.

So what, ryan and boehner are too.

Lost in Jersey on December 14, 2013 at 5:51 PM

It seems as if this sort of deal with the Devil

The Devil is not Snowden but Obama and his NSA.

VorDaj on December 14, 2013 at 5:51 PM

Trusting the NSA promises would be like trusting the GeStaPo or KGB or Stasi promises…

….or the promise Janet Barbecue Reno gave Elian Gonzales aunt and uncle before kicking in the door at 3 in the morning, pepper spraying the family at H&K MP5 gunpoint and returning little Elian to his, er, rightful owner Fidel Castro.

viking01 on December 14, 2013 at 5:54 PM

To be blunt I doubt Ryan and Boehner are “considering” anything. They are kept.

Little doubt what Weasel Boehner actually stands for in was bought and paid for long before he wept his way into the speakership.

viking01 on December 14, 2013 at 5:56 PM

…classified documents that Snowden made off with may actually number more than 1.5 million, and all of them are currently sitting somewhere in Russia.

If these documents are in Russia, the Russian government already has them, to think otherwise would be massively stupid.

RJL on December 14, 2013 at 5:57 PM

NSA considering amnesty.

No shit, eh? Its awesome the power an individual can have over a government.

I call it karma.

Don’t want the government snooping on your porno cruising? Don’t cruise porno.

Don’t want the people finding out you’re spying on everything they do? Don’t spy on everything they do.

QED.

BobMbx on December 14, 2013 at 6:05 PM

Don’t forget, everything Snowden has been doing is motivated by a love for the US – don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!

Anti-Control on December 14, 2013 at 5:45 PM

Don’t you question his patriotism! He’s more American than Captain America!/

thebrokenrattle on December 14, 2013 at 6:09 PM

Snowden still has 1.7 million docs. NSA considering amnesty.
===========================================================

Wait a tickeroo, this is about Immigration I bet!!
(sarc)

canopfor on December 14, 2013 at 6:14 PM

♫ Just as every NSA is a criminal and all the sinners saints…

Pleased to meet you… hope you guessed my name…♫

viking01 on December 14, 2013 at 6:17 PM

I’m going to take crap but IMHO Snowden is a hero. If you believe in a limited goverment then you do too. Ben Franklin was right.

jukin3 on December 14, 2013 at 6:37 PM

The NSA ought to concern themselves with the mole on the inside. No way an outside contractor pulled this off without help.

John the Libertarian on December 14, 2013 at 5:07 PM

Agreed.

davidk on December 14, 2013 at 5:19 PM

.
I’ve documented the FISA court document as the “proof of mole” enough times over the last 6 months, I won’t respond to poster equating the NSA systems to Healthcare.gov.

If you need to delude yourself badly enough to believe this is a one person job?

You should be working in the Kneepad Media helping to sell that shite.

But after the “We must capitulate to Iran” settlement sought so urgently by Kerry on behalf of Obama …

… one other fact came shining through – Russia can PROVE who the mole in the Obama administration is for the FISA-level Snowden data.
.
.
.
Have you thought it through yet?
Here is a helpful hint – WHEN did the SCOAMF start openly ceding vital American interests to Putin and/or his client states?
.
.
.
Do you see it now?

The Obama administration, indeed – Obama himself, has been compromised by the Putin.

Obama will SURRENDER on ANYTHING before risking the PROOF of the mole’s identity being made public.

Which means the mole is someone VERY close personally to Obama.

Someone he CAN’T distance himself from.
.
.
.
Scared shitless, yet?

PolAgnostic on December 14, 2013 at 6:38 PM

Edward Snowden deserves high praise for his heroic actions in exposing the illegal activities of our government against its citizens. If it were not for him, Congress would not even be talking about reining in unconstitutional US government snooping against innocent American citizens. Imagine what other unconstitutional spying schemes our government would have concocted by now. If Obama could illegally sic the IRS on innocent conservatives, imagine what he could order the NSA and CIA to do to undermine Obama’s political enemies.

Ceteris Paribus on December 14, 2013 at 6:42 PM

I’ve been posting stupid stuff all over the Internet for years to screw up the NSA.

SparkPlug on December 14, 2013 at 6:59 PM

We need Sandy burger to steal and shred these documents.

SparkPlug on December 14, 2013 at 7:01 PM

I’ve been posting stupid stuff all over the Internet for years to screw up the NSA.

SparkPlug on December 14, 2013 at 6:59 PM

Heh

BallisticBob on December 14, 2013 at 7:15 PM

I was under the delusion that one of the criteria for Snowden’s Russian asylum was that he not actively distribute this stuff. With that much material, it’s hard to believe he’s the only perpetrator. There has to be someone else

Boats48 on December 14, 2013 at 7:16 PM

Snowden is a whistleblower, and the real issue is the NSA spying on everybody.

David Blue on December 14, 2013 at 7:27 PM

I think he must spend some jailtime. I am not against a plea deal for a shorter sentence if it gets these documents back. However i am sure the Russians have gotten their hands on them.

gerrym51 on December 14, 2013 at 5:09 PM

Right. Let’s get to that after we’ve convicted every single government official who signed off on spying on US citizens absent a warrant and due process.

Wendya on December 14, 2013 at 7:33 PM

No amnesty. No return to the country he sold out. He is no hero.

rlwo2008 on December 14, 2013 at 7:34 PM

No amnesty. No return to the country he sold out. He is no hero.

rlwo2008 on December 14, 2013 at 7:34 PM

He sold out the country? Really? He may have sold out the government but when the government makes itself an enemy of the citizens it serves, bad shit happens.

Wendya on December 14, 2013 at 7:38 PM

Right. Let’s get to that after we’ve convicted every single government official who signed off on spying on US citizens absent a warrant and due process.

Wendya on December 14, 2013 at 7:33 PM

Exactly.

David Blue on December 14, 2013 at 7:38 PM

Military men in charge of surveillance of the domestic population.

Hmm. That does not sound good.

No state should be surveilling anyone without a warrant. But I guess we don’t pay attention to the Bill of Rights anymore.

AshleyTKing on December 14, 2013 at 7:41 PM

Snowden for President!

For Freedom!

Make DC listen!

FloatingRock on December 14, 2013 at 7:54 PM

Don’t you question his patriotism! He’s more American than Captain America!/

thebrokenrattle on December 14, 2013 at 6:09 PM

I’d like to know how much those who believe that Snowden’s the greatest patriot since Bradley Chelsea Elizabeth Manning feel about having him vetted as much as they wish the Preezy had been…

Anti-Control on December 14, 2013 at 7:57 PM

I doubt that Obama cares what Russia and China know – it’s the people finding out that bothers him.

OldEnglish on December 14, 2013 at 8:09 PM

so if I kill enough people can I get amnesty?
no.
if I default on enough taxes can I get amnesty?
no.
enforce the law or scrap the law.
no carve outs due to the fear of what MAY happen.

dmacleo on December 14, 2013 at 8:11 PM

I’m going to take crap but IMHO Snowden is a hero. If you believe in a limited goverment then you do too. Ben Franklin was right.

jukin3 on December 14, 2013 at 6:37 PM

Not too sure if I’d call him a “hero”…was Daniel Ellsberg a hero? Deep Throat? The many others who have leaked info throughout the years that outs things kept from the American people for no other cause than to protect criminal interests? Some would say yes, and others no I suppose.

Given the criminal, un-Constitutional nature of what the government’s been up to, I’d be among the last to want to see him prosecuted.

Dr. ZhivBlago on December 14, 2013 at 8:12 PM

Citizens in Russia and China — who already live under oppressive surveillance — may also become victims of the leak if parts of the blueprints of the world’s largest spy apparatus were used against them.

As if we don’t live under an oppressive regime.

“Look, over there guys! Russia has video camera’s all over the place! They kill journalists! They hate teh gays (oh, wait, you might like that one).”

Snowden is a hero.

Aquateen Hungerforce on December 14, 2013 at 9:23 PM

There is no impartial enforcement of the laws. Is Eric “Fast and Furious” Holder in jail? No. Is he in any danger for that or any of his other crimes? No. Or for defying Congress? No. Are any of the Obama administration’s other criminals, liars-under-oath and stone-wallers going to jail? No. Are black guys who intimidate voters at the polling booths in legal danger even after they got convicted? No, the racialized Justice Department withdrew charges after their conviction, because in Erik “My People” Holder’s Justice Department, “civil rights” and voting suppression laws are weapons against white people only.

Edward Snowden would be an idiot to let himself be the one guy singled out for vindictive punishment under the pretext of law, while other criminals, including all the spying-scandal criminals he blew the whistle on, continue to enjoy immunity and be above the law.

Let’s not hear too much about the sacredness of the law. Everyone who doesn’t sign up for Obamacare is a criminal; that’s why there’s a fine. For all you know, you commit three felonies a day, that’s why only idiots talk to the police.

Everyone can figure out why the state is going after whistleblowers and only whistleblowers: it’s to silence future whistelblowers, so the government can get away with more evil, criminal stuff.

The aim of the Great Snowden Hunt is to increase criminality in the long run, by creating a cloak of fear to hide criminal tyrannical acts.

David Blue on December 14, 2013 at 10:46 PM

The Washington Post reported that U.S. officials believe [insert useful propaganda here]

VerbumSap on December 14, 2013 at 11:27 PM

The Washington Post reported that U.S. officials believe [insert useful propaganda here]

HAHAHA!

David Blue on December 14, 2013 at 11:34 PM

Ironic that the Russians know how to effectively deal with their own traitors like Snowden. If the situation were reversed and their traitor was in the US, he would have had a polonium cocktail months ago.

guinneach on December 15, 2013 at 12:04 AM

Oh I forgot to mention that if anyone thinks the Russians don’t already have access to all if Snowden’s haul… I have stock in LSD to sell them

guinneach on December 15, 2013 at 12:05 AM

Give him amnesty and let him have one of those “unfortunate accidents ” about a year later

kurtd on December 15, 2013 at 12:29 AM

The Russians already know everything Snowden stole. They wouldn’t let him stay there otherwise. The NSA is considering amnesty because they’re afraid of the American people finding out what they are doing.

notropis on December 15, 2013 at 1:33 AM

Has anyone considered the possibility that the Russians know how to make photocopies?

newtopia on December 15, 2013 at 1:56 AM

The biggest fallacy in the original Star Wars movie was that stolen data could exist only in one place, one droid, at a time. This is the fallacy present in giving Snowdon any amnesty. The Russians and the Guardian probably have the data already and the passwords to decrypt it.

Sure, give him amnesty. That gives us a ring side seat to his descent into madness, decay, and early death. But that data is out there, forever a monument to a NSA that has both thumbs stuck up its lowest down when standing up orifice.

{^_^}

herself on December 15, 2013 at 4:18 AM

Give him amnesty and let him have one of those “unfortunate accidents ” about a year later

kurtd on December 15, 2013 at 12:29 AM

After Muammar Gaddafi, everybody on the planet with an IQ above room temperature knows that’s how America plays the game. America has ceased to be a country that you can deal with, with any expectation that deals will be kept, or even that you won’t finish up being sodomized by a knife while the American Secretary of State gloats and fist-pumps over your degraded corpse.

“Thanks” Obama.

David Blue on December 15, 2013 at 5:50 AM

That Snowden could get away with what he did shows the NSA’s own security is laughable.

Why haven’t heads inside the agency rolled?

profitsbeard on December 15, 2013 at 12:07 PM

Has anyone considered the possibility that the Russians know how to make photocopies?

newtopia on December 15, 2013 at 1:56 AM

Yeah, but I’m not sure they can afford to print 1.7 million copies.

Dr. ZhivBlago on December 15, 2013 at 12:10 PM

Yeah. He’s going to leave a country with a 13% flat income tax to get raked over the coals by the IRS.

ak90049 on December 15, 2013 at 1:49 PM

Why haven’t heads inside the agency rolled?

profitsbeard on December 15, 2013 at 12:07 PM

Because they weren’t whistleblowers.

David Blue on December 15, 2013 at 6:15 PM

I hope top NSA guys get new shorts for Xmas cause I bet they’re crappin’ theirs silly everyday

jaywemm on December 15, 2013 at 8:21 PM

Since it’s obvious that the administration has no real idea of exactly how many documents are in Snowden’s possession, or exactly which documents are in Snowden’s possession, Snowden would be prudent to put aside a few of the most damning and accept the amnesty for the rest of them.

He has released multiple copies of the encrypted bundle. He won’t be able to retrieve those … nor can the government be guaranteed that he won’t release the password after the fact … unless he is permanently silenced.

Cipherprime on December 16, 2013 at 8:44 AM

The Russians already have it. Why bother?

unclesmrgol on December 16, 2013 at 3:49 PM