U.S. intelligence head wants Snowden, 'accomplices' to return documents

WASHINGTON Wed Jan 29, 2014 3:55pm EST

U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper is pictured at a House Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, October 29, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Reed

U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper is pictured at a House Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, October 29, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Jason Reed

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The top U.S. intelligence official called on Wednesday for Edward Snowden and journalists who obtained documents the former contractor took without authorization from the National Security Agency to return the materials to authorities.

At a hearing where the heads of five U.S. intelligence agencies ratcheted up rhetoric calling Snowden a "grave threat" to the nation, U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper made comments that appeared to accuse journalists who wrote stories based on Snowden's leaks.

"Snowden claims he's won and that his mission is accomplished," Clapper testified at the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee's annual hearing on global security threats.

"If that is so, I call on him and his accomplices to facilitate the return of the remaining stolen documents that have not yet been exposed to prevent even more danger to U.S. security," he said.

Clapper's comments were immediately criticized by Glenn Greenwald, a writer who met with Snowden in Hong Kong and wrote about documents he received from him in the Guardian and other media outlets. Greenwald currently is setting up a new media venture with EBay founder Pierre Omidyar.

"Is it now the official view of the Obama administration that these journalists and media outlets are 'accomplices' in what they regard as Snowden's crimes? If so, that is a rather stunning and extremist statement. Is there any other possible interpretation of Clapper's remarks?" Greenwald wrote on a personal blog.

Snowden, who has accepted temporary asylum in Russia, has said that he gave journalists all the documents he took with him when he left his job as an NSA contractor in Hawaii.

One U.S. official familiar with the matter said privately this week that in reality, U.S. authorities do not know how many documents Snowden downloaded.

Some U.S. officials have suggested publicly that he acquired as many as 1.7 million documents, though several sources familiar with what he delivered to media outlets said the quantity was a fraction of that - at most hundreds of thousands of papers.

In the wake of Snowden's disclosures and deep public concern about widespread surveillance, President Barack Obama has proposed NSA eavesdropping reforms, including restrictions on a current agency program that collects masses of telephone "metadata" on both foreigners and Americans.

Several bills calling for reforms of the NSA's data collection are making their way through Congress.

There is strong support for Snowden around the world.

On Wednesday, a Norwegian member of parliament nominated the former contractor for the 2014 Nobel peace prize.

(Editing by Dan Grebler)

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Comments (7)
zoinkers123 wrote:
Speaking of wants, there’s a lot of things I want the government to do, but oh well. The US government doesn’t live in a one-way-street-world where they can tell people what to do without consequences.

Jan 29, 2014 4:05pm EST  --  Report as abuse
JimmyRustle wrote:
Return the documents? This makes absolutely no sense. The ‘documents’ were downloaded off NSA servers, essentially copies were made. It’s not as if Snowden wheeled file cabinets onto a UHaul. The NSA still has a copy of all the information that was copied. I don’t understand what James Clapper expects to happen from making such an ignorant demand. What a waist of time.

Jan 29, 2014 4:15pm EST  --  Report as abuse
SaggyNutzinHD wrote:
Did’t Jim-Tom Clapper commit a Felony when he lied under oath to Congress last year? Oh. That’s right. Laws don’t apply to the leaders of our nation.

Government is not the target, our system of government is sound. The greedy, corrupt, and criminal leadership is what must be removed. The U.S. is a rigged game. Corruption, greed, and crime are the rule at America’s highest leadership levels. We have a melding of big business and government that are breaking the law. Think mafia. Organized crime. Secret and unconstitutional court systems. The leadership on Wall Street, the leadership in the “Big 6″ media outlets, the leadership in our military, and the leadership in our government are running these organizations just like a lawless mafia organization. The U.S. has no functioning democracy at this moment.

WE WANT OUR CONSTITUTION BACK!

Thanks go to E.J. Snowden – a Great American Hero

Jan 29, 2014 5:00pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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