For months, Mike Rogers, the chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, has been one of the sole purveyors of propaganda intended to convince Americans that former NSA contractor Edward Snowden is an intelligence defector or spy and not a whistleblower to be celebrated.
On “Meet the Press” on Sunday, a show where it would seem congressmen are basically free to fabricate whatever stories they want about whistleblowers, Rogers declared:
…We know today no counterintelligence official in the United States does not believe that Mr. Snowden, the NSA contractor, is not under the influence of Russian intelligence services. We believe he is. I certainly believe he is today. So now we all agree that he’s under the influence of Russian intelligence services today.
For the investigators, they need to figure out well, when did that influence start. And was he interested in cooperating earlier than the timeline would suggest. So you’re talking to a guy who stole information, who is now in the arms of intelligence services saying, “Well, gosh, whatever you guys say is absurd. Only I can define the truth.” That’s ridiculous on its face.
I do believe there’s more to this story. He is under the influence of Russian intelligence officials today…
The congressman argued the question now for intelligence officials is when the “collaboration” began.
Rogers even took advantage of the current geopolitical climate and said, “He is actually supporting in an odd way this very activity of brazen brutality and expansionism of Russia. He needs to understand that. And I think Americans need to understand that. We need to put it in proper context.”
Previously, Rogers said on “Meet the Press” in January, “I believe there’s questions to be answered there. I don’t think it was a gee-whiz luck event that [Snowden] ended up in Moscow under the handling of the FSB,” the domestic security service in Russia.
Each appearance has been followed by reports in the New York Times that suggest Rogers is deliberately misrepresenting the truth. “Investigators have disclosed no evidence that Mr. Snowden’s work, while under contract to the N.S.A., might have been directed by a foreign power,” the Times noted on March 23.
“There has been no public indication that investigators for the F.B.I., the N.S.A. or the Pentagon have uncovered evidence that Mr. Snowden received assistance from any foreign intelligence service.”
In January, the Times reported, “There has been no public indication that the FBI’s investigation of Mr. Snowden’s actions, bolstered by separate ‘damage assessment’ investigations at the NSA and the Pentagon, has uncovered evidence that Mr. Snowden received help from a foreign intelligence service. A senior FBI official said on Sunday that it was still the bureau’s conclusion that Mr. Snowden acted alone.”
Rogers himself has put forward no evidence to back up the sweeping claims he is now making.
If such evidence existed that would prove Snowden had been under “Russian influence” and collaborated with the Russians when deciding to disclose information, wouldn’t this have been leaked by anonymous US government officials by now? Especially in this climate where President Barack Obama is seen as facing off with Russian President Vladimir Putin?
Snowden blind-sided the NSA and the wider Obama administration. He has forced a debate and called into question surveillance programs, which all three branches of government have argued are lawful and perfectly legitimate. Officials have constantly maintained that media organizations are “sensationalizing” the leaks. So, wouldn’t it be in the best interest of the government to leak proof of “Russian influence” and further isolate Snowden if such evidence existed?
Of course, Snowden is no intelligence defector. He is no Russian spy. He blew the whistle on massive global surveillance by the US government because:
Secret laws and secret courts cannot authorize unconstitutional activities by fiat, nor can classification be used to shield an unjustified and embarrassing violation of human rights from democratic accountability. If the mass surveillance of an innocent public is to occur, it should be authorized as the result of an informed debate with the consent of the public, under a framework of laws that the government invites civil society to challenge in open courts.
That our governments are even today unwilling to allow independent review of the secret policies enabling mass surveillance of innocents underlines governments’ lack of faith that these programs are lawful, and this provides stronger testimony in favor of the rightfulness of my actions than any words I might write.
The propaganda Rogers pushes is the product of a vendetta Rogers has against Snowden. The whistleblower has forced him to address the issue of oversight of the NSA—a concept in government which appears to be personally outrageous to him. He has had to think about questioning the very secret surveillance programs and policies he is committed to fiercely defending. And so, the focus must be put on Snowden to avoid doing the job he should be doing as an overseer in government.