According to the Los Angeles Times, federal investigators believe Edward Snowden compromised security by copying classified files to a thumb drive. They also claim to know how many documents he copied.
Investigators “know how many documents he downloaded and what server he took them from,” said one official who would not be named while speaking about the ongoing investigation.
Snowden worked as a system administrator, a technical job that gave him wide access to NSA computer networks and presumably a keen understanding of how those networks are monitored for unauthorized downloads. [...]
Officials said they still don’t know how Snowden got access to an order marked “Top Secret” from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, or a highly-classified directive from President Obama authorizing a military target list for cyber attacks. Neither document would be widely shared, or normally available to a low-level NSA employee.
If it’s true that Snowden gained access to files that he was not privy to accessing, the charges he is facing could be quite numerous and go far beyond the obvious.
The idea that his actions may increase secrecy and reduce transparency is beginning to seem more plausible as this will likely result in a broad range of new security protocols regarding access to information. And if the Department of Justice allows Google and others to disclose requests for information from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), that may be the only instance of increased transparency that results from this.
But while I’m at my most cynical moment — I would ask how many Americans will shrug after they discover that all the hooplah was about collecting information on suspects in countries they can’t find on a map?
The other overlooked element of this story is the disclosure of cyber warfare defense plans which Glenn Greenwald published shortly after the much-hyped story on the NSA’s supposed “direct-access” Prism program. As far as I can tell, those plans have nothing to do with privacy or government transparency and their disclosure will add another dimension to the charges Snowden could be facing.