New NSA Director Adm. Michael S. Rogers told The New York Times that the damage done by leaks made by Edward Snowden last summer is largely manageable.
“You have not heard me as the director say, ‘Oh, my God, the sky is falling,'” Rogers said in an interview. “I am trying to be very specific and very measured in my characterizations.”
Rogers’ predecessor, Gen. Keith B. Alexander, has previously said that the Snowden’s theft of up to 1.7 million documents caused “the greatest damage to our combined nations’ intelligence systems that we have ever suffered.”
The Times notes that Rogers indicated “an absence of alarm about the long-term effects of the Snowden revelations,” although the career cryptologist did say that he has personally overheard terrorist groups “specifically referencing data detailed” in documents Snowden took.
The head of the world’s largest foreign signals intelligence agency also discussed how relationships have changed with U.S. telecommunications and high technology companies, but said that the majority of corporations that gave the NSA its global edge are still working with it.
Significantly, the interview does not mention Russia or China, which are widely believed to be the primary beneficiaries of Snowden’s actions.
“Snowden has been a significant benefit to Russia and, more importantly, China given their roles as America’s principal cyber foes,” geopolitical expert Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group, told Business Insider in an email. “The Snowden revelations have forced the policymakers responsible for cybersecurity efforts to play defence. Even if he had provided no concrete intelligence to the Russians and Chinese (which stretches credulity), Snowden has provided a great deal more breathing room to the offensive cybersecurity efforts of both governments.”
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