Ex-CIA official: NSA leaks ‘most serious’ in history

The CIA’s former number-two ranking official says the disclosure of confidential documents by whistleblower Edward Snowden has been the most serious breach of classified information in US history.

“I think this is the most serious leak - the most serious compromise of classified information in the history of the US intelligence community,” Michael Morrell, former deputy director and acting director of the CIA, told CBS television’s 60 Minutes program on Friday. 

Morrell also said Snowden’s disclosures have hampered efforts to track possible terror threats. “What Edward Snowden did - has put Americans at greater risk - because terrorists learn from leaks and they will be more careful, and we will not get the intelligence we would have gotten otherwise.” 

He also noted that the most damaging leak from Snowden revealed the intelligence community’s secret budget, or ‘black book’. 

Information which provides details about how and on what US intelligence agencies spend money reveals the priorities and potential weaknesses that foreign intelligence agencies can take advantage of, he noted. 

“They could focus their counter-intelligence efforts on those places where we’re being successful. And not have to worry as much about those places where we’re not being successful,” Morrell stated. 

The National Security Agency’s documents disclosed over the past few months reveal a troubling picture of a spy agency that has sought and won sweeping powers to collect data on Americans and foreign nationals without anyone having full technical understanding of the process. 

Head of the NSA Gen. Keith Alexander is now calling on governments to stop journalists from public disclosure of his agency’s secret documents. 

"I think it’s wrong that that newspaper reporters have all these documents, the 50,000-whatever they have and are selling them and giving them out as if these-you know it just doesn’t make sense," Alexander said in an interview with the Defense Department's "Armed With Science" blog. 




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