During a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Wednesday, officials urged National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden to hand over any remaining top secret documents still in his possession, claiming that further leaks will lead to the deaths of U.S. diplomats, citizens and soldiers.
National Intelligence Director James Clapper harshly criticized Snowden and his “accomplices,” accusing them of bolstering the capabilities of U.S. adversaries, hurting relationships with allies and giving terrorists the tools they need to communicate undetected.
“Terrorists and other adversaries of this country are going to school on U.S. intelligence sources’ methods and trade craft and the insights that they are gaining are making our job much, much harder,” Clapper said during his opening statement. “And this includes putting the lives of members or assets of the intelligence community at risk, as well as our armed forces, diplomats and our citizens.”
“Snowden claims that he has won and that his mission is accomplished,” Clapper said. “If that is so, I call on him and his accomplices to facilitate the return of the remaining stolen documents that have not yet been exposed to prevent even more damage to U.S. security.”
U.S. officials have estimated that Snowden could have more than 1.7 million NSA documents in his possession.
Asked if journalists were being considered Snowden accomplices by intelligence officials, a Clapper spokesperson said, “Director Clapper was referring to anyone who is assisting Edward Snowden to further threaten our national security through the unauthorized disclosure of stolen documents related to lawful foreign intelligence collection programs.”
Also during the hearing, NSA critic Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) urged intelligence officials to be more forthcoming with the American people. Specifically, the lawmaker requested within 30 days answers about whether the FBI can acquire information about the geographical locations of Americans without a warrant using cell technology, and an explanation from CIA officials about how the 1980 anti-hacking Computer Fraud and Abuse Act applies to their activities.