The US government acknowledges in a news story published on August 19 that, in addition to Edward Snowden, there might be another leaker of sensitive documents. Suspicions of such a worrisome event to the US government were reported in this space a few days before. The existence of another whistleblower is obviously not welcome news for the Obama administration.
We reported on a wide ranging interview with Edward Snowden a few days ago. In the in-person interview conducted by Wired.com, the author offered that, though dismissed by Snowden, someone other than him have leaked information for public perusal. The author is not alone in reaching that conclusion. Former Guardian reporter and current Snowden confidante Glenn Greenwald and security expert Bruce Schneier- who have extensive access to the cache of documents- have publicly stated that they believe another whistleblower is releasing secret documents to the media. It is apparent that this leaker does not want to suffer the same fate as Snowden and therefore is remaining anonymous for now. And in denying the existence of a potential clandestine leaker, Snowden seems to be trying to lessen the impact of his deed.
Two weeks ago we reported in this space an article from Der Spiegel on the NSA’s long-running and expanding spying operations in Germany and its much maligned cooperation with the German intelligence agency, BND. Among the documents that magazine released is a top-secret “Memorandum of Agreement” between the NSA and the BND from 2002. The publication maintains that it is not from Snowden’s material. It further cast doubts that the now infamous revelation about Angela Merkel’s cell phone tapping, long attributed to Snowden, came from his trove.
For its part, the US government believes there is a new Edward Snowden who is leaking NSA documents since Snowden’s initial leaks more than a year ago. The claim has been made by US officials who told media outlet CNN that a news story published on August 19 by The Intercept- the news site launched by Greenwald- was based on leaked national security documents called the Directorate of Terrorist Identities Strategic Accomplishments 2013. This was prepared by the National Counterterrorism Center and classified as secret, also forbidding sharing with foreign governments.
Included in the leaked report is the claim that the Obama administration has presided over an unprecedented expansion of the terrorist screening system. For the Intercept articles reveal that of the 680,000 people caught up in the government’s Terrorist Screening Database more than 40% (280,000) are described by law enforcement agencies to have no known affiliation to terrorist organizations. That number is far greater than the numbers attributed to terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda, Hamas and their ilk.
The article reports that,
“Since taking office, Obama has boosted the number of people on the no-fly list more than ten-fold to an all-time high of 47,000- surpassing the number of people barred from flying under George W. Bush.”
To be fair, it should be pointed out that the threat from terrorists during this period has also increased though it is hard to assess the geometric progression. Also, with the political stakes higher than ever and with a zealous media ready to pounce, more rigorous surveillance is likely to be the result.
The notion that there may be Snowden wannabes out there is surely agonizing to the government given the fiasco surrounding the Snowden revelations last year. It seems that despite efforts to diffuse the situation it is almost certain to spiral even more out of control before long.