Snowden responded in an email to the Washington Post that the
release by U.S. officials "is incomplete."
The release of the April 2013 emails between Snowden and the NSA's
legal office is the latest round in a battle between Snowden, who
casts himself as a crusading whistleblower, and U.S. security
officials, who say he failed to report his concerns to superiors
In an interview with NBC News on Wednesday, Snowden said he had
raised alarms at multiple levels about the NSA's broad collection of
phone, email and Internet connections.
"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," Snowden told the
"Many, many of these individuals were shocked by these programs,"
Snowden said, adding that he was advised: "If you say something
about this, they're going to destroy you."
The emails were first released by the office of Democratic Senator
Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
In a statement, the NSA said: "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 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,"
Snowden told the Post there were other emails "and not just on this
topic. I’m glad they’ve shown they have access to records they
claimed just a few months ago did not exist, and I hope we’ll see
the rest of them very soon." The email exchange appears to be the
first internal communication by Snowden, while he was working for
the NSA, to be released publicly.
[to top of second column]
In an April 5, 2013, email to the NSA's Office of General Counsel,
Snowden questioned the contents of a mandatory legal training
The course, he wrote, cited the U.S. Constitution as the nation's
top legal authority, followed by "Federal Statutes/Presidential
Executive Orders (EO)."
"I'm not entirely certain, but this does not seem correct, as it
seems to imply Executive Orders have the same precedence as law,"
Snowden wrote. "Could you please clarify? Thank you very much, Ed."
An unidentified official in the General Counsel's office wrote back
three days later that executive orders, issued by a U.S. president,
"have 'the force and effect of law.' That said, you are correct that
E.O.s cannot override a statute."
Asked by the Post on Thursday if he had been was wrong in saying he
reached out to many colleagues and supervisors to express his
concerns, Snowden replied: "No, not at all.
"The bottom line is that even though I knew the system was designed
to reject concerns raised, I showed numerous colleagues direct
evidence of programs that those colleagues considered
unconstitutional or otherwise concerning. Today’s strangely tailored
and incomplete leak only shows the NSA feels it has something to
(Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball and Peter Cooney; Editing by
David Storey and Mohammad Zargham)
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