Edward Snowden, the leaker of the National Security Agency's secret phone and Internet surveillance program, is the archetype of someone recruited by the government to be a spy, "narcissistic, delusional, under-achievers," said Jack Devine, a 32-year CIA veteran.
"My colleagues and I spent our careers in the CIA looking for people like him — on the other side, that is," Devine, former head of the agency's Directorate of Operations, wrote in a column for Politico Magazine
"We worked hard to locate the kind of person who could be persuaded to give up his country's secrets: narcissistic, often delusional under-achievers whom we could hope to turn into loose-lipped sources in our enemies' camps and other hostile locations," he wrote.
"We understood just how valuable it was to every aspect of our foreign policy to know the plans and intentions of our enemies; the best way to do this was to look for a source and exploit people like Snowden, the National Security Agency leaker,¬ to target for this purpose."
Devine recalled that the Russians were also adept at searching for sources of classified information, nothing they have a long history of successfully recruiting American spies who ultimately damaged U.S. national security.
"One shudders to think what more could have been done against us if they had had Snowden's access to sensitive communications and his technical know-how on how to extract it from the system," he wrote.
"Some people think of Snowden as a latter-day Daniel Ellsberg, a noble whistle-blower. Clearly I do not," Devine wrote, adding that Snowden did "enormous international damage…to our country's self-defense by his revelations."
Devine pointed to the escalating dangers of terrorism and instability throughout the world and said Snowden's actions were "deeply troubling" because they directly caused a serious loss of America's capabilities to deal with current and future adversaries.
Devine acknowledged the significance of Snowden's impact on privacy issues and the public's heightened concern, but said he is confident that the government will find a way to restore the right balance between privacy and national security.
According to Devine, Snowden is guilty of "betraying his country." If Snowden's motivations were honorable, Devine argues, he would have pursued the matter internally and the appropriate action would have been taken by the government had he done so.
Snowden, he said, also knew how much damage he had done with the information he "stole about our national security. What's more, he knew full well what he was doing when he put himself in the hands of the Russians."
"He is both naive and delusional if he believes they will keep him around once they have gotten what they want from him, both in terms of intelligence and propaganda value. It is then that he will learn, like the others before him that have fallen into this trap, that when he truly becomes a 'man without a country,' he will have to pay for his keep. He has set a course that will inevitably lead him to disillusionment, despair and guilt."
Devine concludes by saying that if Snowden really believes in accountability, he should put himself in the hands of the U.S. judicial system, "the most impartial in the world, and certainly in contrast to Snowden's new homeland."
He said if Snowden has a case, he will be exonerated, but if not, he will serve a long jail sentence.
"As long as he stays in Russia, Snowden is telling the world that this is a risk he knows he can't take," Devine wrote.
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