In response to Edward Snowden’s claim that he “repeatedly raised constitutional concerns about National Security Agency surveillance internally”, the NSA insists an internal search doesn’t support Snowden’s claim. They also released an email from Snowden which also contradicts his claim of merely a perfunctory “bureaucratic” response from the agency.
On Thursday, NSA released the email they said Snowden appeared to be referring to, which the agency says is the only communication from Snowden it could find raising any concerns. It was dated April 8, 2013, three months after Snowden first reached out to journalists anonymously. Former NSA chief Gen. Keith Alexander said the agency could find no one to whom Snowden voiced concerns verbally either.
In the email to NSA’s general counsel’s office, Snowden questions an NSA document showing the hierarchy of governing authorities, which appeared to put executive orders on par with federal statutes.
“I’m not entirely certain, but this does not seem correct, as it seems to imply executive orders have the same precedence as law,” Snowden said in the email. “Could you please clarify?”
Based on this information, it would appear that the NSA took Snowden’s question serious enough t respond and also leave open the door to further query. The agency now says it can find no evidence that Snowden pursued matters further internally, either via email or in person with NSA staff.
Snowden, a former NSA systems administrator whose leaks have exposed some of the agency’s most sensitive spying operations, called himself a patriot in an interview this week with NBC News’ Brian Williams. He said he felt he had no choice but to expose what he considered illegal NSA surveillance by leaking secret details to journalists.