Wired reports: In response to claims by Edward Snowden that he raised concerns about NSA spying in emails sent to the spy agency’s legal office, the NSA released a statement and a copy of the only email it says it found from Snowden.
That email, the agency says, asked a question about legal authority and hierarchy but did not raise any concerns.
“NSA has now explained that they have found one e-mail inquiry by Edward Snowden to the Office of General Counsel asking for an explanation of some material that was in a training course he had just completed,” the NSA said in a statement. “The e-mail did not raise allegations or concerns about wrongdoing or abuse, but posed a legal question that the Office of General Counsel addressed. There was not additional follow-up noted.
“There are numerous avenues that Mr. Snowden could have used to raise other concerns or whistleblower allegations,” the statement continued. “We have searched for additional indications of outreach from him in those areas and to date have not discovered any engagements related to his claims.”
But Ben Wizner, Snowden’s legal advisor and director of the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, said the NSA is being disingenuous.
“Snowden raised many complaints over many channels,” he said in a statement today. “The NSA is releasing a single part of a single exchange after previously claiming that no evidence existed.”
The email, dated April 5, 2013, which was sent shortly before Snowden departed Hawaii for Hong Kong and released thousands of NSA documents to journalists, asks a question about the agency’s mandatory USSID 18 training and Executive Orders — orders that come from the president.
In his email, Snowden asked about the hierarchy for such presidential orders, asking whether these have the same precedence as law.
“My understanding is that EOs may be superseded by federal statute, but EOs may not override statute. Am I correct in this?” he wrote. He also wanted to know which of Department of Defense regulations and regulations from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence have greater precedence.
There is no mention of a concern about how the NSA is using these regulations or overstepping its legal bounds. This does not, however, rule out that other emails from Snowden exist that the NSA has not found or is not releasing. [Continue reading…]