NPR logo House Intel Panel: Edward Snowden 'Was No Whistleblower'

House Intel Panel: Edward Snowden 'Was No Whistleblower'

Edward Snowden, who is in Moscow, is seen on a giant screen during a live video conference for an interview as part of an Amnesty International event in Paris in December 2014. The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence published a summary report accusing Snowden of causing "tremendous damage to U.S. national security." Charles Platiau/AP hide caption

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Charles Platiau/AP

Edward Snowden, who is in Moscow, is seen on a giant screen during a live video conference for an interview as part of an Amnesty International event in Paris in December 2014. The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence published a summary report accusing Snowden of causing "tremendous damage to U.S. national security."

Charles Platiau/AP

Summarizing its investigation of Edward Snowden, the House Intelligence Committee says the former National Security Agency contractor did tremendous damage to the U.S.

The committee published the summary findings of a two-year investigation Thursday as a new film about Snowden opens across the country.

Snowden stole 1.5 million classified government documents that he had access to as an NSA contractor. He then fled to Russia via Hong Kong.

As NPR's David Welna reports:

"Most major congressional reports are rolled out with news conferences, floor speeches and press releases. Not this one. There is only a three-page unclassified summary of the House Intelligence Committee's actual 36-page report, which remains classified.

"[Devin Nunes, R-Calif., chairman of the panel]: The report is based on facts, so it's just all the facts that we gathered over a two-year process, and the report ... I think, speaks for itself."

The summary is available here. It contains five major points:

  • Snowden caused "tremendous damage to national security," and the documents he stole had nothing to do with programs affecting individual privacy interests. Rather, the documents pertained to "military, defense, and intelligence programs of great interest to America's adversaries." The report says the government has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to mitigate the damage Snowden caused.
  • Snowden is not a whistleblower but a disgruntled employee whose actions infringed on the privacy of thousands of government employees and contractors. A real whistleblower, the report suggests, would have remained in the U.S. and not fled to China and Russia.
  • Two weeks before he began the massive download of 1.5 million documents, Snowden had a "workplace spat" with NSA managers.
  • Snowden is "a serial exaggerator and fabricator" who told a series of untrue stories about his health, education and performance reviews.
  • The committee says it is concerned that NSA and the intelligence community in general have not done enough to prevent "another massive unauthorized disclosure of documents."

The committee unanimously voted to endorse the report, and all members signed a letter to President Obama urging him not to pardon Snowden.

The committee's report may or may not have anything to do with the release of the new biopic Snowden, directed by Oliver Stone and starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the title role.

David also reports that committee member Tom Rooney, R-Fla., was especially bothered by the trailer he has seen for the movie:

"Welna: The Edward Snowden portrayed in that trailer by actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Rooney says, is not the serial exaggerator and fabricator the committee's report says he is.

"Rooney: He was like this little guy fighting this behemoth of oppressive government, when that's exact, not at all what it was. But, you know, I guess it makes for good, uh, cinema.

"[Welna] — Do you plan to see the movie?

"— Absolutely. I absolutely will see the movie."