Investigative journalist Jason Leopold, a Freedom of Information Act ninja, has liberated documents that the Defense Intelligence Agency prepared after the Edward Snowden leaks. Newsworthy revelations are sprinkled throughout his Vice News exclusive, which leads with government efforts to discredit the NSA contractor. But the detail that grabbed my attention concerns the Department of Defense.
In a report shared with Congress, the DIA stated that Snowden took over 900,000 Defense Department files. There is no way to verify the accuracy of that number since the head of the DIA has muddied the distinction between documents that Snowden “touched” and documents that he downloaded and brought overseas. In any case, Snowden had access to at least 900,000 Pentagon files. And Leopold says newly released public records show that the DoD “first learned that Snowden took documents containing Department of Defense information on July 10, 2013, about a month after Snowden disclosed that he was the source of the leaks about the NSA's controversial surveillance programs.”
Isn’t that striking?
A systems administrator with broad access to state secrets announced to the world that he had fled abroad with countless highly sensitive documents. And even after that, it took the Department of Defense another month to figure out that some of their highly sensitive documents were implicated. Recall that in August of 2013, the NSA then moved “to eliminate about 90 percent of its system administrators to reduce the number of people with access to secret information,” which certainly makes it seem like they had a gaping security vulnerability.