E-mail exchange revealed between Snowden and NSA; no smoking gun

05/29/2014 2:02 PM

05/29/2014 3:43 PM

The chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released contents of a brief e-mail exchange between leaker Edward Snowden and the National Security Agency’s Office of General Counsel.

The email, provided to the committee by the NSA on April 10, poses a question about laws and executive orders but did not register concerns about NSA’s intelligence activities. The committee chair, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., a frequent defender of NSA actions, said this undercuts Snowden’s claims to the contrary.

Feinstein further reported Thursday that “the NSA informed the committee that it has found no evidence that Snowden expressed concerns or complaints, in email or any other form, about NSA’s intelligence activities to anyone in a position of authority or oversight.”

Snowden’s released e-mail, dated April 5, 2013 asked about the relationship between executive orders and laws. He also wanted to know whether Defense Department regulations and Office of Director of National Intelligence regulations carry the same weight.

His questions appeared to arise as a result of training session he had attended, which listed the “heirarchy of governing authorities.”

Snowden’s e-mail elicited a response three days later, addressed “Hello Ed,” stating that executive orders cannot override a law, and that agency regulations are of equal weight. The name and email address of the individual responding is blacked out.

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