Edward Snowden has picked up plenty of friends in journalists, privacy advocates, and citizens since he fled his NSA contracting job with upwards of a million top secret files detailing the inner workings of the U.S. intelligence community and military.
But the 30-year-old’s betrayal of trust in the eyes of U.S. spies has led many to imply that he should be killed.
Some spooks aren’t hiding their anger anymore, as seen by several candid quotes from a new report by Benny Johnsen of Buzzfeed:
“In a world where I would not be restricted from killing an American, I personally would go and kill him myself,” a current NSA analyst told BuzzFeed. “A lot of people share this sentiment.”
A former U.S. Special Forces officer told Johnson that he “would love to put a bullet in his head,” adding the assertion that Snowden “is single handedly the greatest traitor in American history.”
Buzzfeed notes that nobody expects the U.S. government to act on such fantasies. Nevertheless, the hypothetical assassination of the NSA-trained hacker is detailed:
“I think if we had the chance, we would end it very quickly,” [an Army intelligence officer] said. “Just casually walking on the streets of Moscow, coming back from buying his groceries. Going back to his flat and he is casually poked by a passerby. He thinks nothing of it at the time starts to feel a little woozy and thinks it’s a parasite from the local water. He goes home very innocently and next thing you know he dies in the shower.”
The story illustrates the massive divide between the average civilian — the latest polling shows a majority regard Snowden as a whistleblower — and the average spy, who has access to much more information and can, arguably, see firsthand the damaging effects of the leaks that have come out.
Disclosures published from Snowden’s cache have set off a global privacy conversation and have spurred reform in the U.S. They have also exposed NSA tools and detailed American intelligence operations against its rivals and adversaries.
The slow drip is a nightmare for the U.S. intelligence community, and there are still open questions regarding when (if ever) the former CIA technician gave up access to the NSA documents and how he ended up in the hands of Russia.
An NSA official even broached the subject of clemency for Snowden if he promised to return home without leaking “the keys to the kingdom,” which include 31,000 files detailing U.S. intel on other country’s military capabilities as well as information about U.S. capabilities and U.S. gaps.
Clemency is now out of the question, especially given the epic size and scope of the theft as well the Kremlin’s unstated interest in holding on to him. Consequently, frustrated American spies imagine what they seen as the simplest way to deal with the Snowden problem.
“His name is cursed every day over here,” a U.S. intelligence contractor told BuzzFeed from overseas. “Most everyone I talk to says he needs to be tried and hung, forget the trial and just hang him.”
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