An adviser of former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden pushed back Sunday against still unsupported claims that he conspired with the Russian government to steal information about America’s surveillance.
Jesselyn Radack, a Snowden legal adviser, said on Meet the Press that statements made last week by Reps. Mike Rogers and Michael McCaul and Sen. Dianne Feinstein were “obviously part of of a smear effort” against Snowden. “If people don’t want to take my word for it or Snowden’s word for it,” she continued, “ask the FBI, who still believes he acted alone.”
Radack also responded to Attorney General Eric Holder’s suggestions that the U.S. might be willing to discuss a possible deal with Snowden if he agreed to plead guilty to charges Holder did not specify. “We’re glad that Holder made that statement,” Radack said, but its “disheartening that he seemed to take clemency and amnesty off the table.” She told David Gregory that no one from the U.S. government has tried to contact Snowden or his advisers about starting negotiations.
This Thursday, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board issued a report that called the NSA’s bulk phone data collection program is not only illegal, but also has not contributed meaningfully to counterterrorism efforts. President Obama announced plans to reform the program on January 17, but the details of exactly how it will be structured have not yet been determined.
Rogers and Feinstein alleged on Meet the Press last week that Snowden had help from Russian intelligence forces, but they offered no evidence in support of their theory that the 30-year-old made any deal to trade information for respite in “the loving arms” of Russian intelligence agents, as Rogers put it.
Former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff repeated the spy allegations on Meet the Press Sunday, although when asked for more specifics, admitted he wasn’t privy to any information that might support claims of spying. “I don’t know what the facts would show,” Chertoff said.