NSA Watchdog: Snowden Should Have Come to Me

Wednesday, 26 Feb 2014 10:29 AM

By Drew MacKenzie

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The National Security Agency’s leading watchdog, George Ellard, has slammed Edward Snowden for his "thievery" and said that the fugitive leaker should have approached him before exposing the NSA’s mass phone data collection.

Talking for the first time in public during a panel discussion, the NSA’s inspector general is quoted by Politico as saying: "Snowden could have come to me."

Ellard said that he would have afforded the same protection to Snowden that is given to people behind the 1,000 complaints received every year on the agency’s hotline. "We have surprising success in resolving the complaints that are brought to us," he said.

During the day-long conference at the Georgetown University Law Center, Ellard said that he would have set up an independent hearing to investigate Snowden’s concerns over the secret NSA data spying.

According to firedoglake.com, Ellard revealed that if Snowden had come to him, he might have said, "Hey, listen, 15 federal judges have certified this program is okay."

He added, "I would also have an independent obligation to assess the constitutionality of that law. We would have investigated the legality of the program. We would have investigated his allegations. We do that all the time.

"If not, I would have made the Senate and House Intelligence Committees open to him. Whether he would be in the end satisfied, I don’t know, but allowing people who have taken an oath to protect the constitution, to protect these national security interests, simply to violate or break that oath is unacceptable."

During the discussion, Ellard also quoted comments about Snowden by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who said that the former NSA contractor had "damaged the intelligence community’s ability to keep our country safe," and had "helped terrorists whose aim is to kill us." Ellard said: "I do not think that these assertions are hyperbolic."

Snowden "was manic in his thievery," Ellard said. Snowden, who fled the U.S. last year, is currently in Russia under temporary asylum.

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