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NSA releases Snowden email exchange to 'prove' he raised no spying concerns

Disputes claims that whistleblower blew
Fri May 30 2014, 11:21
Edward Snowden NSA Prism whistleblower

THE UNITED STATES National Security Agency (NSA) has denied reports that whistleblower Edward Snowden complained internally before going public, by publishing one email.

The NSA said that Snowden sent just one "email inquiry" was sent to its Office of General Counsel, explaining that it asked for more information about some material from a training course.

"The e-mail did not raise allegations or concerns about wrongdoing or abuse, but posed a legal question that the Office of General Counsel addressed. There was not additional follow-up noted," it said.

"There are numerous avenues that Mr Snowden could have used to raise other concerns or whistleblower allegations. We have searched for additional indications of outreach from him in those areas and to date have not discovered any engagements related to his claims."

The NSA has released the email (PDF) and it is rather short and is a request for information. It is possible that Snowden sent other emails, and that they have been missed, or were lost, but as far as we know the NSA tends not to miss many communications - whether they are addressed to it or not.

The NSA published both the email and its friendly 'give us a call for more information' response.

Snowden had asked for information about USSID, which is part of training and is concerned with how and when the agency can surveil US citizens. Snowden asked the NSA whether its executive orders were to be seen as more important than local and international laws.

"I'm not entirely certain, but this does not seem correct, as it seems to imply Executive Orders have the same precedence as law. My understanding is that
EOs may be superseded by federal statute, but EOs may not override statute," he wrote.

"Am I incorrect in this? Between EOs and laws, which have precedence? Similarly, between DOD and ODNI regulations, which has greater precedence?"

Ed, as he was referred to in the reply, was told that yes maybe that is the case sometimes.

"Executive Orders (E.O.s) have the ‘force and effect of law'. That said, you are correct that E.O.s cannot override a statute," it said.

"In general, DOD and ODNI regulations are afforded similar precedence though subject matter or date could result in one having precedence over another. Please give me a call if you would like to discuss further."

Earlier this week Snowden told NBC news about the 2013 email exchange, and others, although he told it rather differently.

"I have raised the complaints not just officially in writing through email to these offices and these individuals but to my supervisors, to my colleagues, in more than one office," he said. µ


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