Senior government officials are saying that the extent of Edward Snowden’s intelligence leaks may never be known. Snowden fled the US after removing classified documents from government computers, subsequently leaking documents showing an alarming level of domestic surveillance by the National Security Agency.
Investigators remain in the dark about the extent of the data breach partly because the N.S.A. facility in Hawaii where Mr. Snowden worked — unlike other N.S.A. facilities — was not equipped with up-to-date software that allows the spy agency to monitor which corners of its vast computer landscape its employees are navigating at any given time.
Essentially, the NSA monitors the American people more extensively than they monitor themselves.
Snowden also covered his tracks by using passwords and security procedures belonging to other employees. “They’ve spent hundreds and hundreds of man-hours trying to reconstruct everything he has gotten, and they still don’t know all of what he took,” a senior administration official said. “I know that seems crazy, but everything with this is crazy.”
Snowden is currently living and working in Russia, after a high-profile quest for asylum there. He was indicted in June by the Justice Department for theft of government property and espionage.