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NEW YORKER: Snowden, in a rare interview that he conducted by encrypted means from Moscow, denied the allegations outright, stressing that he “clearly and unambiguously acted alone, with no assistance from anyone, much less a government.” He added, “It won’t stick…. Because it’s clearly false, and the American people are smarter than politicians think they are.” If he was a Russian spy, Snowden asked, “Why Hong Kong?” And why, then, was he “stuck in the airport forever” when he reached Moscow? (He spent forty days in the transit zone of Sheremetyevo International Airport.) “Spies get treated better than that.” In the nine months since Snowden first surfaced, there has been intense speculation about his motives and methods. But “a senior F.B.I. official said on Sunday that it was still the bureau’s conclusion that Mr. Snowden acted alone,” the New York Times reported this weekend, adding that the agency has not publicly revealed any evidence that he was working in conjunction with any foreign intelligence agency or government.
The issue is key to shaping the public’s perceptions of Snowden. Congressman Rogers, on “Meet the Press,” went on to allege that “some of the things he did were beyond his technical capabilities. Raises more questions. How he arranged travel before he left. How he was ready to go—he had a go bag, if you will.” Gregory then asked Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, and who was also a guest on the show, whether she agreed that Snowden may have had help from the Russians. She did not dismiss the notion. “He may well have,” she said. “We don’t know at this stage.” On CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Rogers made similar allegations, saying, “This wasn’t a random smash and grab, run down the road, end up in China, the bastion of Internet freedom, and then Russia, of course, the bastion of Internet freedom.” Asked today to elaborate on his reasons for alleging that Snowden “had help,” Congressman Rogers, through a press aide, declined to comment. An aide to Senator Feinstein, meanwhile, stressed that she did no more than ask questions. “Senator Feinstein said, ‘We don’t know at this stage.’ In light of the comments from Chairman Rogers, it is reasonable for Senator Feinstein to say that we should find out.” MORE
THE GUARDIAN: Human Rights Watch director Kenneth Roth discusses reforms put forward by President Barack Obama over the activity of the National Security Agency in the wake of Edward Snowden’s revelations on US surveillance activity. Roth criticises Obama, saying he fell short of defending the public’s right to privacy, and instead merely made reassurances that the government would take more care. MORE
THE GUARDIAN: The Justice Department is withholding documents related to the bulk collection of Americans’ data from a transparency lawsuit launched by the American Civil Liberties Union. US attorney Preet Bharara of the southern district of New York informed the ACLU in a Friday letter that the government would not turn over “certain other” records from a secret surveillance court, which are being “withheld in full” from a Freedom of Information Act suit the civil liberties group filed to shed light on bulk surveillance activities performed under the Patriot Act. The decision to keep some of the records secret, in the thick of Edward Snowden’s revelations, has raised suspicions within the ACLU that the government continues to hide bulk surveillance activities from the public, despite US president Barack Obama’s Friday concession that controversial National Security Agency programs have “never been subject to vigorous public debate”. The latest such disclosure happened Friday with the release of 24 documents, mostly detailing Fisa court reauthorizations of the bulk phone records collection first reported by the Guardian thanks to leaks from whistleblower Snowden. Among the information disclosed in the documents, which date back to 2006 – the first year in which the program received authorization from the Fisa court at all – is the footnoted stipulation that the court “understands that NSA expects it will continue to provide, on average, approximately 3 telephone numbers per day to the FBI”. If true – the footnote only appears in pre-2009 court reauthorizations – the estimate suggests the NSA has given the FBI approximately 13,203 phone numbers based on the 12-year-old domestic bulk phone data program. MORE