Edward Snowden didn't email surveillance concerns: officials

Edward Snowden didn't email surveillance concerns: officials

Posted:
Edward Snowden Edward Snowden
By Jake Miller / CBS NEWS / May 29, 2014 

CBS NEWS: President Obama's administration and a key senator on Thursday rebutted Edward Snowden's claim that he expressed concerns about the legality of government surveillance programs to his superiors at the National Security Agency before he exposed the programs and fled the country last June.

Snowden, a former contractor with the NSA who now resides in Moscow as a fugitive from the U.S. government, has been called a whistleblower by supporters who believe he exposed real wrongdoing in his leaks of classified programs. But the U.S. government has disputed that characterization, saying Snowden never raised concerns about the programs through any channels available to genuine whistleblowers.

"I actually did go through channels and that is documented," Snowden said. "The NSA has records. They have copies of emails 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."

"Now, I had raised these complaints not just officially in writing through email to these offices and these individuals but to my supervisors, to my colleagues in more than one office," he continued. "I reported that there were real problems with the way the NSA was interpreting its legal authorities and the response, more or less, in bureaucratic language, was 'you should stop asking questions.'"

In response, the NSA released the email exchange in question on Thursday. In a statement, the agency said Snowden "did not raise allegations or concerns about wrongdoing or abuse, but posed a legal question that the Office of General Counsel addressed. There was not additional follow-up noted."

In the email exchange, Snowden questions the NSA's legal department about whether an executive order supersedes federal statute, or vice versa. An unnamed official with the NSA's general counsel explained, "Executive Orders (E.O.s) have the 'force and effect of law.' That said, you are correct that E.O.s cannot override a statute."

Beyond that brief discussion, the NSA said it could not uncover any further attempts by Snowden to express concerns. "There are numerous avenues that Mr. Snowden could have used to raise other concerns or whistleblower allegations," the agency explained. "We have searched for additional indications of outreach from him in those areas and to date have not discovered any engagements related to his claims."

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., backed up that assertion, with a release from her office saying the email "does not register concerns about NSA's intelligence activities, as was suggested by Snowden in an NBC interview this week."

And White House Press Secretary Jay Carney similarly said on Thursday that Snowden "did not raise allegations or concerns about wrongdoing or abuse but posed a legal question that the office of general council addressed. There was not additional follow up noted."

© 2014 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • National

    Obama warns of delay in social sec. checks and veteran's benefits

    Obama warns of delay in social sec. checks and veteran's benefits

    Web Producer: Lucy Valencia, Assignment Desk Editor WASHINGTON (AP) -- Declaring "we are not a deadbeat nation," President Obama warned on Monday that Social Security checks and veterans' benefits willMore >>
    Declaring "we are not a deadbeat nation," President Obama warned on Monday that Social Security checks and veterans' benefits will be delayed if congressional Republicans fail to increase the government's borrowing authority in a looming showdown over the nation's debt and spending.More >>
  • Got Solar? Utility looking to place solar panels on a home near you

    Got Solar? Utility looking to place solar panels on a home near you

    Arizona's top utility company is looking to place solar panels on 3,000 homes; at no cost to the homeownerArizona Public Service announced that they plan on placing these panels on residents homes and in turn for the usage of their roofs the utility company will give them a $30 discount on their monthly bill for the next 20 years. If approved by regulators APS will spend anywhere from 50 to 70 million in project costs. This new initiative will help the utility giant meets it's mandatory alter...More >>
    Arizona's top utility company is looking to place solar panels on 3,000 homes; at no cost to the homeownerArizona Public Service announced that they plan on placing these panels on residents homes and in turn for the usage of their roofs the utility company will give them a $30 discount on their monthly bill for the next 20 years. If approved by regulators APS will spend anywhere from 50 to 70 million in project costs. This new initiative will help the utility giant meets it's mandatory alter...More >>
  • Facebook Recovering After Brief Outage

    Facebook Recovering After Brief Outage

    If you experienced issues logging ontoFacebooktoday, you're not alone. The site went down for most users around 12 p.m. ET on Friday. Users began to regain access to the site about 30 minutes later, according to various tweets.Mashablehas been able to access the site, although response time has been slower than usual. For the duration of the outage, visitors to Facebook.com were greeted with the following message: Facebook'sdeveloper webpagewent down with the site during the initial outage, b...More >>
    If you experienced issues logging ontoFacebooktoday, you're not alone. The site went down for most users around 12 p.m. ET on Friday. Users began to regain access to the site about 30 minutes later, according to various tweets.Mashablehas been able to access the site, although response time has been slower than usual. For the duration of the outage, visitors to Facebook.com were greeted with the following message: Facebook'sdeveloper webpagewent down with the site during the initial outage, b...More >>
  • Body found along trail; death called suspicious

    Body found along trail; death called suspicious

    The Yavapai County Sheriff's Office says a 43-year-old Peoria man's body has been found along a forest trail and his death is being called suspicious.More >>
    The Yavapai County Sheriff's Office says a 43-year-old Peoria man's body has been found along a forest trail and his death is being called suspicious.More >>
  • Yuma

    Transit director responds to bus rider concerns

    Transit director responds to bus rider concerns

    YUMA, AZ (13 On Your Side) - Yesterday, 13 On Your Side spoke with 72-year-old Robert Perez, who uses public transportation and isn't happy with the service he's getting. He says, "you have to wait inMore >>
    Yesterday, 13 On Your Side spoke with 72-year-old Robert Perez, who uses public transportation and isn't happy with the service he's getting.More >>
  • Solar Wind Energy Tower, Inc. Agrees to Accept up to $100 Million Additional Financing from Arizona Alternative Energy Center, LLC for San Luis, Arizona Tower

    Solar Wind Energy Tower, Inc. Agrees to Accept up to $100 Million Additional Financing from Arizona Alternative Energy Center, LLC for San Luis, Arizona Tower

    ANNAPOLIS, MD / ACCESSWIRE / July 14, 2014 / Solar Wind Energy Tower, Inc. (OTCQB: SWET), (the “Company”), the inventor of large Solar Wind Downdraft Tower structures capable of producing abundant,...More >>
    ANNAPOLIS, MD / ACCESSWIRE / July 14, 2014 / Solar Wind Energy Tower, Inc. (OTCQB: SWET), (the “Company”), the inventor of large Solar Wind Downdraft Tower structures capable of producing abundant, inexpensive...More >>
  • Father time reared his head

    Father time reared his head

    As UCLA tallied the damage from rampant flooding triggered by the rupture of a 90-year-old city water line, Los Angeles city leaders on Wednesday were once again confronted with the consequences of deferred maintenance on the city's aging infrastructure. Officials have long known that hundreds of miles of city water lines have deteriorated and need replacement, with many past the century mark. But in recent years, L.A.'s elected leaders have been unwilling to hike water rates enough to fix th...More >>
    As UCLA tallied the damage from rampant flooding triggered by the rupture of a 90-year-old city water line, Los Angeles city leaders on Wednesday were once again confronted with the consequences of deferred maintenance on the city's aging infrastructure. Officials have long known that hundreds of miles of city water lines have deteriorated and need replacement, with many past the century mark. But in recent years, L.A.'s elected leaders have been unwilling to hike water rates enough to fix th...More >>
  • Trial exposes CEO's calls, texts to Va. first lady

    Trial exposes CEO's calls, texts to Va. first lady

    Friday, August 1 2014 5:26 PM EDT2014-08-01 21:26:38 GMT
    The key witness in the corruption trial of Virginia's former governor and his wife said his association with the couple was fraught with bad decisions - but an affair with the first lady was not one of them.More >>
    Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's wife exchanged 1,200 text messages and phone calls with the CEO of a dietary supplement company in less than two years, including 52 in one day, according to evidence presented...More >>