That’s a question House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers is wondering about. Specifically, Rogers wants to look into a Snowden-FSB connection, given that some of the relevant data points to the former NSA analyst receiving technical assistance in stealing the files.
“I believe there’s questions to be answered there,” Rogers said in an interview to air on “Meet the Press.” “I don’t think it was a gee-whiz luck event that he ended up in Moscow under the handling of the FSB.”
The Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB) is the successor to the KGB, and serves as Russia’s primary intelligence service.
Rogers says his suspicions were aroused because some of the information Snowden obtained while working as a contractor for the NSA were “beyond his technical capabilities.” The Michigan Republican also questioned how Snowden had assembled a so-called “go bag” for his escape to Hong Kong after turning over the classified documents to journalists.
Moreover, Rogers argues Snowden targeted information about foreign intelligence operations, rather than intelligence programs that raised privacy concerns for American citizens.
“I believe there’s a reason he ended up in the hands, the loving arms, of an FSB agent in Moscow,” Rogers said. “I don’t think that’s a coincidence.”
In an interview last month with the Washington Post, Snowden said there was “no evidence at all for the claim that I have loyalties to Russia or China or any country other than the United States.”
“I have no relationship with the Russian government,” he continued. “I have not entered into any agreements with them.”
Instead, Snowden said he was motivated by concern over the programs’ privacy violations.
“All I wanted was for the public to be able to have a say in how they are governed,” Snowden said.
Rogers has more information than the rest of us on how Snowden got a hold of millions of pages of documents and files. But I still find it faintly possible that he could have been working with a foreign agent who represented himself as someone else.
Was some of the information actually “beyond his technical capabilities”? By all reports, Snowden is a very clever fellow and something of a computer whiz. But accessing all this highly classified information — and doing it without being immediately discovered — does indeed raise questions about whether he had technical assistance or not. It need not have come from a foreign source. But if he had an accomplice, the government will surely want to know.
Snowden as a conscious agent of the FSB is a stretch. But that doesn’t mean he pulled this off by himself, or that others were not involved.