Edward Snowden made off with "over 900,000" highly sensitive US Department of Defense documents, according to American government officials whose private memos were published today.
The figures were obtained by Vice News following a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) battle with Uncle Sam.
According to the undated memos, agents at the Department of Defense's Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) claimed that Snowden, a contractor who got admin status on NSA networks and turned whistleblower, was able to access and copy at least 900,000 classified DoD documents.
Source ... A key passage of the revealed memos
The wording is ambiguous due to redactions made prior to the FOIA release, but Vice journo Jason Leopold reckons "Snowden took 900,000 Department of Defense (DoD) files — more documents than he downloaded from the NSA about the agency's surveillance programs." We note that the NSA is part of the DoD.
Whether or not the 900,000 figure includes the data Snowden snatched about the NSA and Five Eyes spying programs, it is implied the whistleblower grabbed secret-or-above military documents unrelated to mass surveillance. Snowden is now living in Russia with his longterm girlfriend.
Meanwhile, the memos also show where the infamous claim that Snowden stole 1.7 million files came from: talking points issued to politicians, and ultimately passed on to the media as fact. Glenn Greenwald, one of the journalists given copies of the leaked files by Snowden, has repeatedly claimed the figure of 1.7m is way off. It is believed to be much lower – possibly 200,000 – but no one knows for sure, it seems.
"The DIA documents make clear that the accusation [of 1.7m stolen documents] came from a list of unclassified Defense Department talking points sent to the House and Senate oversight committees on January 8, 2014, a day before Foreign Policy and Bloomberg published their reports that contained the same DIA talking points," Leopold notes.
The DIA investigation, which kicked off in 2013, roped in a task force of agents previously assembled in 2010 to look into the WikiLeaks disclosures of government documents. That leak was eventually traced to ex-soldier Chelsea Manning.
Vice goes on to note that when Senate officials were briefed as to the extent of Snowden's disclosures, they "appeared surprised and concerned at the extent of the Department of Defense information that was potentially compromised by Edward Snowden."
The compromise of NSA systems led the government to hire approximately 200 to 250 people who "triage, analyze, and assess DoD impacts related to the Snowden compromise," it is claimed.
If the 900,000 figure is correct then there are lots of interesting nuggets of information yet to emerge from the Snowden trove. ®