The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Sunday that both the Russian and Chinese governments may have already gotten their hands on the classified U.S. intelligence stolen by rogue National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.
Appearing on ABC’s This Week, Gen. Martin Dempsey said “it wouldn’t surprise me” if the two nations have obtained the classified information stored on four NSA laptops that Snowden stole before fleeing to Russia.
Snowden’s actions, Dempsey said, “has caused us some considerable damage to our intelligence architecture,” and made it harder to gather information about terrorists.
“Our adversaries are changing the way they communicate,” Dempsey said.
Snowden was granted asylum for one year in Russia despite U.S. demands that Russia return Snowden for prosecution. Snowden had been living in the Moscow airport and contends that he has not disclosed any classified information.
Turning to the issue of military sexual assaults, Dempsey said Congress does not need to intervene to toughen the process of punishing those found guilty of sexual assault, that the Pentagon itself could remake a system that outside critics claims allows some guilty parties to escape prosecution.
“We’re looking at every possible way and [are] open-minded to every single option” to address the problem internally, including the establishment of a program for special victims councils.
Sen. Kristen Gillibrand, D-N.Y., has authored legislation that would remove military commanders from the decision on what assault cases should be prosecuted, leaving that to outside prosecutors. It's a move the Pentagon is vigorously fighting.
Dempsey argued on Sunday that victims of assault already have options other than going to their commanders.
“A victim doesn’t have to go to the commander,” Dempsey said. “There are at least nine other places where a victim can go.”