EJE: Was Snowden alone?

Our friend Edward Jay Epstein takes a look at the Snowden timeline and asks whether Snowden has been playing with others who remain unidentified:

My question: Was Snowden alone in this enterprise to publish COMINT?

Prior to his taking the Booz Allen Hamilton job in Hawaii, he was in contact with other people who, five months later, helped arrange the publication of the COMINT. In January 2013, according to the Washington Post, Snowden requested that Laura Poitras get an encryption key for Skype so that they could have a secure channel to communicate. In February, he contacted Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald and provided him with a step-by-step email and video to get an encryption key.

So before Snowden proceeded with his penetration in March 23013 of Booz Allen Hamilton and the NSA he had arranged with two other people, who later participated in the publication, a secure channel of encrypted communications. The point of Snowden’s penetration was to get classified data from the NSA. He subsequently stated: “My position with Booz Allen Hamilton granted me access to lists of machines all over the world the NSA hacked, that is why I accepted that position.”

Snowden’s next move was to arrange to meet Greenwald in Hong Kong. On May 20, after falsely claiming he needed treatment for epilepsy, Snowden took the stolen data to Hong Kong on thumb drives and four laptops. The plan to get and publish COMINT thus appears to have extended over five months, It began well before Snowden sought the job at Booz Allen that would give him access to the COMINT. The Guardian article by Greenwald appeared June 5. It published COMINT documents. So, again, did anyone abet Snowden?

UPDATE: Ed elaborates on the Snowden case in the Wall Street Journal column “Who helped Snowden steal state secrets?”

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