Opinion

NSA disputes Edward Snowden's claim he went through proper channels before leaking documents

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The National Security Agency is pushing back against Edward Snowden's claim in his recent interview that he attempted to go through proper channels with his concerns.

The agency on Thursday released an e-mail from Snowden to the NSA's general counsel showing the former government contractor asking to clarify a training document. Nowhere in the e-mail were any surveillance concerns raised.

After including a list from “The Hierarchy of Governing Authorities and Documents,” Snowden requested clarification as to whether and executive order would take precedence over a federal statute. He also asked whether Department of Defense regulations took precedence over the Office of the Director of National Intelligence regulations.

The e-mail is dated April 5, 2013, four months after he apparently first contacted journalist Glenn Greenwald and three months after reaching out to documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras. The e-mail was also sent nearly a year after Snowden first began illegally downloading NSA documents, according to NSA Deputy Director Rick Ledgett.

Snowden, in a taped interview with NBC host Brian Williams that aired Wednesday, said that the NSA had evidence that he went through proper channels.

“The NSA has records, they have copies of e-mails right now — to their office of general counsel, to their oversight and compliance folks — from me, raising concerns about the NSA’s interpretations of its legal authorities,” Snowden said.

But if it's true that the e-mail released Thursday is the only one Snowden sent to the general counsel, it could be a big blow to his credibility.

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