Two of the world’s top spies during the Cold War, one American and one Russian, recently explained the probable relationship between Russia’s post-Soviet security services (FSB) and NSA leaker Edward Snowden in similarly disconcerting ways.
Jack Devine, a former director of CIA Operations, and ex-KGB General Olig Kalugin believe that if the 30-year-old was not a Russian asset when he stole hundreds of thousands of NSA documents, he is now.
“It would be most unusual if he were allowed to remain there as a guest for free,” Devine said. “I don’t think he was a controlled asset, but I think at the end of the day he will be.”
Kalugin, who was the youngest KGB general in history, was more blunt: “These days, the Russians are very pleased with the gifts Edward Snowden has given them. He’s busy doing something. He is not just idling his way through life.”
Snowden accessed 1.7 million documents before flying to Hong Kong and giving an estimated 2oo,000 to journalists Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras in early June. On June 23, following the advice of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, Snowden flew to Moscow.
The former CIA technician and Greenwald have both said that Snowden had more documents, but it’s unclear when he gave up access to them.
In any case, the former systems administrator’s extensive knowledge of NSA systems makes him very valuable to Russia.
Kalugin thinks Putin got everything Snowden accessed, which top U.S. officials say includes military documents: “Whatever he had access to in his former days at NSA, I believe he shared all of it with the Russians, and they are very grateful.”
Devine likened Snowden’s personality to Aldrich Ames — a American who spent years giving secrets to Russia and is now serving life in prison — and said that the Russians would know what to do with him.
“The Russians have been doing espionage for a long time,” Devine said. “They understand the psychology of discontented people.”
Greenwald defends Snowden’s path
Interestingly, Greenwald seems OK with this situation. Here’s what he recently told L’Espresso (translated from Italian):
“WikiLeaks was crucial in preventing Snowden from ending up in a U.S. maximum security prison. … I was and am one of the greatest defenders of WikiLeaks … I do not think that there would have been any other group or person who would do what WikiLeaks and [Assange advisor] Sarah Harrison did for Edward Snowden at that moment: He was the world’s most wanted, sought in the viewfinder of the most powerful government on the globe.”
Greenwald has been promoting the biggest leak yet, which he is saving as a sort of grand finale, and says that Snowden’s legacy will be “shaped in large part” by this “finishing piece.”
Beyond Greenwald’s disclosures, it’s becoming clear that Snowden’s time in Russia will also become a significant part of his legacy.
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