A former CIA chief of staff says U.S. officials are concerned that NSA leaker Edward Snowden could be “aiding our enemies” by handing over sensitive U.S. intelligence to the Chinese government.
Jeremy Bash told Politics Confidential that Snowden had access to “very sensitive information” in his job as a government contractor and could do “tremendous damage.” He said the government’s concern goes beyond the documents that were leaked - extending to the knowledge that Snowden still stores in his head.
“If a foreign government learned everything that was in Edward Snowden's brain, they would have a good window into the way we collect signals intelligence,” Bash said.
“He has information in his head, he's making threats, he's on the loose," Bash added. "We don't know what other documents he copied, and we don't know who else he's talking to."
While Bash said that Snowden is “very dangerous,” he also describes him as “delusional.”
Bash said some of Snowden’s allegations are almost certainly wrong, taking particular aim at his claim that he has the names of everyone in the U.S. intelligence community.
“I didn’t have access to that when I was working for a head of an agency,” Bash said of his time as the chief of staff to then-CIA Director Leon Panetta. “And the head of the agency didn’t have it. It's highly compartmented for exactly this reason, so that that information cannot fall into the hands of any one single individual.”
As for Snowden’s claim that he could intercept any ordinary American citizen’s emails, passwords, phone records and credit cards, Bash said it was “totally wrong.”
“It's almost impossible for me to contemplate that he could,” Bash said. “The requests have to be documented. You can't just turn on a switch and start surveilling any American that you want to. You've got to go through a lot of legal process.”
For more of the interview with Bash, and to hear what he had to say about Hollywood’s portrayal of the NSA, check out this episode of Politics Confidential.
ABC's Eric Wray, Alexandra Dukakis, Ron Couvillion, and Bob Bramson contributed to this episode.