Booz Allen Hamilton’s vice chairman said Edward Snowden, a former Booz Allen employee, has done “irrevocable damage” to America’s national security.
“What I’m going to tell you, I’m repeating from [NSA Director] General Keith Alexander,” said Mike McConnell, a former director of National Intelligence, at the Multiple Award Government & Industry conference in Alexandria, Va., on Thursday.
“He said irrevocable damage, irrevocable damage for a long period of time and what you’ve seen so far is just the beginning.”
McConnell then described his personal view of the leak’s impact.
“I’m very concerned that it will inhibit our ability to stop terrorism. It’s going to inhibit our ability to understand nuclear activity in North Korea, what’s going on in Syria, what might be happening with the Taliban in Afghanistan. Whatever we’re interested in or focused on or worried about at the moment,” McConnell said.
He concluded that the “leak has done irrevocable damage to that process” and “it’s going to be hard and expensive” to reverse it.
The Washington Post reported on Thursday that U.S. officials “fear that some of the documents Snowden has turned over to journalists disclose NSA methods of hacking into overseas networks, and, if published, will lead targets in other countries — in the Middle East, Europe, East Asia and South Asia — to take new defensive actions.”
The Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive is reportedly conducting an “ongoing” investigation.
McConnell also said that the United Kingdom is a “little ahead” of the United States in cyber security technology.
“Remember the UK’s been dealing with terrorism – internal problems. Well, first of all, they don’t have a bill of rights,” he said to laugher from the audience.
“My own view is we won’t get this right, we in the United States will not get this right until we have a legal framework on which to able to be engaged.”
“Example,” he continued. “If my community’s got this answer, why should we be prevented from providing that to corporate America? Now the current rules say you can’t do that, that’s classified and corporate America is unclassified. I think that rule has to change,” he said.
McConnell refused to comment on Snowden when approached after his speech.
“There’s a federal investigation. We’re cooperating,” he said.
Asked if he and Booz Allen feel at all responsible for Snowden leaking classified information and traveling to China and Russia, McConnell told PJ Media “what we said we put on our website.”
“Booz Allen can confirm that Edward Snowden, 29, was an employee of our firm for less than 3 months, assigned to a team in Hawaii. Snowden, who had a salary at the rate of $122,000, was terminated June 10, 2013 for violations of the firm’s code of ethics and firm policy,” said Booz Allen in a June 11 statement.
“News reports that this individual has claimed to have leaked classified information are shocking, and if accurate, this action represents a grave violation of the code of conduct and core values of our firm. We will work closely with our clients and authorities in their investigation of this matter.”
McConnell was the director of the National Security Agency from 1992-1996 and director of National Intelligence from 2007-2009.