Tags: Al-Qaida | Edward Snowden | Iraq | NSA/Surveillance | Steve Malzberg Show | War on Terrorism | snowden

WashPost's Ignatius: Snowden's Data Grab Could Have Been Worse

By Bill Hoffmann   |   Thursday, 12 Jun 2014 06:33 PM

Edward Snowden was unable to download all of the damaging information he accessed at the NSA, says David Ignatius, a Washington Post columnist and associate editor.

Ignatius told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV that James Clapper, director of National Intelligence, told him the damage Snowden has done was "profound," but could have been worse.

"It turns out it was somewhat less than the intelligence community first had thought. Some things that he tried to download he couldn't," Ignatius said.

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"Some things he looked at they thought he downloaded and they were terrified about that, [but] he didn't.

"So as bad as it was, as dangerous sand as damaging as it was, it wasn't quite as bad as they thought.''

Snowden, who now lives in Russia, was a contractor with the National Security Agency when he stole classified information and fled the United States.

As a journalist and novelist, Ignatius is well versed in the subjects of government espionage and intrigue. His 2007 novel "Body of Lies" was adapted into a film starring Leonardo DiCaprio, and he is author of the new thriller,  "The Director: A Novel."

He also believes the attacks on the Iraqi cities of Mosul and Tikrit, indicate a new and more dangerous faction of al-Qaida on the move.

"The country [thought] a year and a half ago during the presidential campaign that al-Qaida was all but dead — as the president said, it had been decimated, its core group," Ignatius said.

"It turns out that the affiliates of al-Qaida have morphed and grown and become tougher and more violent.

"Al-Qaida now controls a stretch of territory all along the Euphrates Valley from eastern Syria, just east of Aleppo, all the way to the gates of Baghdad."

And while Ignatius calls former President George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq a mistake, he believes President Barack Obama dropped the ball when he took over.

"After President Bush's surge in Iraq, after Gen. [David] Petraeus's really brilliant counterinsurgency campaign there, the situation was better and it was handed over to President Obama in a shape that didn't have to end up with al-Qaida's black flags flying in Fallujah, Mosul, Tikrit, all those cities," he said.

"It would be a mistake for the U.S. to forget the sectarian polarization that got Iraq into this mess … There's got to be a better strategy than the one that this administration has been following the last two years. It is getting worse and worse. There's no question about that.

"Al-Qaida, which threatens all of us, is now stronger than it's been at any time since a decade ago."

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