Readers of Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit) may be perturbed that the Edward Jay Epstein blog post (“Snowden’s Penetration”) he linked to at 10:52 a.m. has now (as of 1:45 p.m. Central time) gone missing. As a service to Instapundit readers, and as an historical record of Mr. Epstein’s comments regarding a matter of great public importance, below is an archived copy of the post.
By Edward Jay Epstein
Edward Snowden was well aware of the law in March 2013 regarding communications intelligence when he sought a job with Booz-Allen Hamilton at a NSA facility in Hawaii and signed the requisite classified information agreements. U.S.C. § 798 : US Code – Section 798, makes it a Federal crime to “knowingly and willfully communicates, furnishes, transmits, or otherwise makes available to an unauthorized person, or publishes, or uses in any manner prejudicial to the safety or interest of the United States” any classified information concerning communication intelligence. Despite the law,Snowden had indeed sought that job so he could arrange to have published classified communications intelligence (COMINT), as he told the South China Post in June 2013. He stated “My position with Booz Allen Hamilton granted me access to lists of machines all over the world the NSA hacked, that is why I accepted that position.”
My question: Was he alone in this enterprise to misappropriate COMINT?
Prior to his taking the job in Hawaii, he was in contact with people who helped arrange the publication of the COMINT. Two of these individuals, film-maker Laura Poitras and Guardian blogger Glenn Greenwald, were on the Board of the Freedom Of The Press Foundation that, among other things, funds Wikileak. In January 2013, according to the Washington Post, Snowden requested that Poitras get an encryption key for Skype so that they could have a secure channel to communicate. In February, he made a similar request to Greenwald, providing him with a step-by-step video to set up encrypted communications. So before Snowden proceeded with his penetration in March 2013 of the NSA via Booz Allen Hamilton, he had assistance, either wittingly or unwittingly, in arranging the secure channel of encrypted communications he would use to facilitate the publication of classified COMINT.
The operation appears to have extended over four months. In mid-May, he falsely told his superiors at Booz-Allen-Hamilton he needed to take time off for treatment for epilepsy. The purpose of the cover story was to conceal his trip on May 20th to Hong Kong where the four-month-long operation would be brought to fruition. Greenwald and Poitras also flew to Hong Kong, as did at a later date, Sarah Harrison, the assistant to Wikileak founder Julian Assange. Snowden reportedly brought with him the misappropriated data to Hong Kong on four laptops. He gave some of the COMINT to Greenwald, who had arranged to publish it in the Guardian. He also arranged to have Poitras film him making a statement that would be released on the Guardian’s website. Meanwhile, Albert Ho, a Hong Kong lawyer, was retained to deal with Hong Kong authorities. This orchestration did not occur in a vacuum. Air fares, hotel bills, legal fees, and other expenses over this period had to be paid. A safe house had to be secured in Hong Kong, and finally, after he was charged with criminal offenses by the US, an escape route to Moscow had to be arranged–a trip on which he was accompanied by Harrison/\.
While the misappropriation of COMINT began appearing in the Guardian and other publications on June 5th, and Snowden left Hong Kong for the Moscow airport on June 21, the question remains: who, if anyone, aided and abetted this well-planned misappropriation of COMINT?