The NSA knows which documents Edward Snowden swiped

The NSA's chief technology officer told NPR the agency knows which documents Edward Snowden leaked to the media.


Joe Kloc


Posted on Sep 18, 2013   Updated on Jun 1, 2021, 6:10 am CDT

The National Security Agency knows which classified documents former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden leaked to the media, the agency’s chief technology officer claimed.

Earlier this summer, the Guardian, the Washington PostDer Spiegel, and other media outlets began publishing stories on the NSA’s massive spy operations that were based on documents taken from the agency by Snowden.

The leaks have revealed the NSA’s collaborations with telecom companies and foreign intelligence agencies, as well as its ability to break the encryption schemes used to guard much of the private information moving across the Internet.

Since the Snowden leaks began, there has been much speculation as to whether the agency knows how much information the former contractor took during his tenure. In July, former NSA Director Michael Hayden speculated to the New Yorker that the agency likely knew what documents Snowden had turned over to the media.

“We have an extremely good idea of exactly what data he got access to and how exactly he got access to it,” said Lonny Anderson, the NSA’s chief technology officer.

Speaking to NPR, Anderson went on to say that the agency has since taken steps to ensure that access to sensitive documents has been limited. “One thing we have done post-media leaks is lock those down hard, so those are [now] all in two-person control areas,” he said.

Anderson was presumably referring to the “two man rule,” which, in the NSA’s case, means that an administrator can only move sensitive files if another administrator is present.

Snowden is wanted on espionage charges in the U.S. He has taken temporary asylum in Russia.

Photo by Brad Greenlee/Flickr

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*First Published: Sep 18, 2013, 5:44 pm CDT