Screengrab via UChi Pol/YouTube

Long-awaited FOIA request of NSA correspondences brings new details to light in Snowden case

The request was made two years ago.


April Siese


Published Jun 4, 2016   Updated Feb 29, 2020, 5:53 am CST

Hundreds of pages of NSA correspondences were released to the public on Friday night.

The documents, concerning emails sent between agency officials regarding former contract worker Edward Snowden, had been withheld for two years, according to Vice News, which states that its granted FOIA request is what ultimately prompted the NSA to post all 794 pages of material hours to their website before Vice went public with it.

The documentation shows an agency fumbling with media inquiries regarding Snowden’s claims that he had attempted to notify the NSA of his surveillance concerns to no avail. The NSA claimed that Snowden had not effectively approached officials, however.

Snowden’s initial claim points to his correspondence regarding potential erroneous test material. It’s concerns over training materials as well as standard operating procedures that the activist was worried about, which naturally led to concerns over surveillance policy. The NSA attempted to sidestep that logic by making Snowden’s assertions more about rules that had already been implemented than hypothetical—but still consequential—scenarios.

It’s hard to deny the impact that Snowden has had on the agency. Through the NSA’s trawling of Snowden’s correspondences as well as the materials he inquires about, the agency came to realize that vital training material had been erroneously citing the temporary 2007 Protect America Act, which was superseded by 2008’s FISA Amendments Act.

That material has since been corrected, as have information regarding the avenues in which a contract worker can bring whistleblower concerns to government officials. This amending of such practices follows countless revelations and revisions hidden with the hundreds of pages of documents made available.

Of particular interest is the fact that the NSA not only admitted to altering emails but that records show that there may have been a few officials who were withholding information regarding their correspondences with the whistleblower. Those officials would come forward long after authorities had issued a public statement.

The emails also point to the first explicit confirmation that Snowden had worked as a contractor with the CIA.

 “There are obviously lots of contacts Snowden had with folks in various organizations of NSA while he was in access,” an official from the NSA deputy associate general counsel for administrative law and ethics writes in an email.

The date on that correspondence? May 29, 2014—over two years ago.

H/T Vice News

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*First Published: Jun 4, 2016, 4:39 pm CDT