The ex-Booz Allen employee revealed some of the covert practices of National Security Agency (NSA) — an organisation “whose sole purpose is to listen to everyone in the world,” according to “Deep State: Inside the government secrecy industry” by journalists Marc Ambinder and D.B. Grady.
The book highlights why Snowden’s revelations are so damaging to Uncle Sam’s espionage operations (emphasis ours):
“The most closely held secrets by the United States are what we know about everyone else’s secrets and how we came to know them. The collection of communications between persons is called signals intelligence, or SIGINT, whether physically (communications intelligence, or COMINT) or electronically (ELINT).”
The NSA is the premier SIGINT enterprise in the world.
And Snowden, a former CIA technician-turned-NSA contractor, spilled “documents” about NSA hacking China, the U.S. spying on its allies at diplomatic summits, the UK SIGNIT tapping Internet traffic and sharing it with the U.S., and a domestic dragnet that continues to analyse the communications of Americans.
That is, Snowden exposed some of what the NSA knows and how the world’s largest spy agency came to know it.
One thing that is still unknown is how much Snowden has leaked — e.g. What have Chinese and/or Russian intelligence authorities learned from him? — but it’s clear that his actions have damaged America’s ability to spy on everyone.
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