“We’re still investigating, but we think that a lot of what he looked at, he couldn’t pull down,” Clapper said in a rare interview at his headquarters Tuesday. “Some things we thought he got he apparently didn’t.” Although somewhat less than expected, the damage is still “profound,” he said.

This assessment contrasts with the initial view in which officials, unsure of what Snowden had taken, assumed the worst — including the possibility that he had compromised the communications networks that make up the military’s command and control system. Officials now think that dire forecast may have been too extreme. …

In the damage evaluation, the intelligence community has established three tiers of material: The first tier is the 300 or so documents that a senior intelligence official said news organizations in the United States or overseas have already published, often with redactions. The second is an additional 200,000 documents the United States believes Snowden or his associates gave to the media.

It’s a third tier of documents, which Snowden is assumed to have taken but whose current status isn’t known, for which officials have lowered the threat assessment. This batch of probably downloaded material is about 1.5 million documents, the senior official said. That’s below an earlier estimate of 1.77 million documents.