Snowden’s Special Plan


Edward took to the airwaves and internets again this past week and, wouldn’t you know it, he has a new batch of excuses! Professor Schindler has covered the finer points of what he has (correctly, in my view) dubbed the Snowden Operation extensively.

Anyone familiar with information operations can see what’s Ed’s up to: he’s formulated a special plan, and now he’s executing.


Special plans (pg 237), a euphemism for vertically and horizontally coordinated deception, are formulated with the express purpose of throwing the adversary off balance. Unfortunately, in this specific instance, the adversary is the American populace. Thanks, Ed.

Peppered among the latest “picture frames” (multiple, multi-layered deceptions)? The wild claim he had no choice but to leak.

In his own words, via WaPo:

Yes. I had reported these clearly problematic programs to more than ten distinct officials, none of whom took any action to address them. As an employee of a private company rather than a direct employee of the US government, I was not protected by US whistleblower laws, and I would not have been protected from retaliation and legal sanction for revealing classified information about lawbreaking in accordance with the recommended process.

I’m in a unique position to tear this to shreds, having spent time working both in an Inspector General’s front office and coordinating, integrating and synchronizing special security programs as a younger man (age 20-22).

First, Snowden’s claim he approached over ten officials is shaky at best. By all reports in the public domain, he was supporting a compartmented program virtually dispersed but physically located in Hawaii. Even if we believe he raised these concerns as a Dell contractor–pre-Booz–that still doesn’t hold. ODNI, or the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, has a mature reporting structure for just this sort of thing specifically to protect whistleblowers and allow civilian employees, military detailees or contractors to report misconduct believe they have encountered in the course of their duties.

The Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act, which went into effect Jan. 1, 1999, provides employees of the Intelligence Community (IC) the means to report to Congress complaints or information pertaining to “urgent concerns” (see below) without suffering reprisal.

This section provides a common starting point for determining whether a complaint or information pertains to the ICWPA and for pursuing the proper course of action.

In general, the ICWPA defines an “urgent concern” as:

  • A serious or flagrant problem, abuse, violation of law or Executive Order, or deficiency relating to the funding, administration, or operation of an intelligence activity involving classified information, but does not include differences of opinion concerning public policy matters.

  • A false statement to Congress, or a willful withholding from Congress, on an issue of material fact relating to the funding, administration, or operation of an intelligence activity.

  • An action constituting reprisal or threat of reprisal in response to an employee reporting an urgent concern.

For Snowden to suggest otherwise is simply false and I am aware of these and other reporting mechanisms being in place as early as 2006, a handful of months after ODNIs establishment. By Snowden’s own admission, he joined the intelligence community as a contractor around the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century. 

There is nothing to prevent a contractor from bringing concerns to the Inspector General, of any agency or department of the United States Government. Any assertion to the contrary is false. My rough estimate is 60% of the reports of cost overruns, and allegations concerning fraud, waste and abuse that we read about with regards to Afghanistan are reported by none other than Department of Defense contractors.

NSA contractors are Department of Defense contractors, and this has never not been the case. It holds true in 2014 and will continue to, until NSA ceases to be a combat support agency of the Department of Defense. This has not happened, and until that time Snowden was afforded the protections every other DoD contractor has. In addition to that, Snowden was also required to go through the proper channels. It wasn’t, and still isn’t, optional.

Second…Snowden’s nonsense may not sound familiar to you, but it does to me.

In fact, he reminds me a lot of Bryan Martin.

Bryan was my friend; I used to double-date with him and his girlfriend. When Bryan was caught trying to put his friends in mortal danger, he had the audacity to say he exhausted the proper channels to report what he believed was the abuse of ‘national systems’–a euphemism for satellites and other surveillance platforms. This was obviously false, as he was caught facilitating the transfer of classified to what he thought was an agent of a foreign power. Luckily, that agent wasn’t–well, they were agents, just of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and Federal Bureau of Investigation.

In the intervening months, it was discovered that Bryan had been nosing all over the share drive, to include a repository that the entity in question shared with select elements of partner nations.  I hold FBI in the highest esteem. But to my knowledge–and when it comes to this specific incident, it’s extensive–it still hasn’t been determined what exactly he made off with.

So, how bad could it be if Snowden touched other things–say, the way we counter improvised explosive devices, ferry VIPs from one place to another, or tactics techniques and procedures that have nothing to do with NSA? That is, other than what he’s disclosed? At the moment, basically, we are adhering to the honor system and expecting Snowden to conform to that same system. That may not be all that helpful, especially in light of this exchange between NPR’s David Greene and LTG Flynn, currently the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency:

Greene: Let me ask you about, ah, Edward Snowden who of course has gotten refuge from Russia. He’ s the former NSA contractor who leaked thousands of classified documents to the world. You have said most of what Snowden had access to was defense-related. What exactly are we talking about here?

Flynn: We have a — certainly a debate within the I-C right now about —

Greene: That’s the intelligence community.

Flynn: Yeah, the intelligence community. About what kinds of information did he touch, what did he take, what do we know. I think if I’m concerned about anything, I’m concerned about defense capabilities that he may have stolen from where he worked, and does that knowledge then get into the hands of our adversaries — in this case, of course, Russia.

Greene: Now defense capabilities; are we talking about U.S. war plans, are we talking about intelligence gathering methods? What exactly is it?

Flynn: I think it’s sort of an all of the above. I mean, it’s intelligence capabilities, it’s operational capabilities, it’s technology, it’s weapons systems.

Greene: You say all of the above. If you think there is a chance that he has access to war plans. If he has access to the way we gather intelligence — how do you respond to that? Are there changes that have to be made? Are there new war plans that have to be drawn up?

Flynn: The answer to it is we really don’t know. From what we do know, we have to assume the worst case and then begin to make some recommendations to our leadership about how do we mitigate some of the risks that may come from — from what may have been compromised. This is going to be one of these instances where we’re going to be dealing with this for many, many years. You know, it’s everything from changing some of the procedures or the techniques or the tactics that we use. We’ve already discussed how we defeat some of these improvised explosive devices, and we know that there’s some evidence that he may have gotten some information about that. And so we have to protect, you know, how we defeat these kind of devices. So we may need to change some of the way we operate.

Snowden is deceiving everyone that will listen, to include his partners at Wikileaks and elsewhere. This was never just about pulling the supposed veil back on what he believes were extra-legal or illegal activities. Nope. And I won’t be told otherwise.

Snowden took everything he could get his hands on. And now that’s he’s successfully escaped and disseminated the information, he can begin the cycle.