​Snowden leaks aided terrorists, damaged spy agencies – neocon think-tank

Reuters / Mark Blinch
Edward Snowden’s intelligence leaks damaged the security services’ war on terror, crippled spy agencies, aided terrorists and failed to reveal evidence of mass surveillance, according to a radical neoconservative think-tank.

In a “major study,” the Henry Jackson Society argues that far from informing the world’s citizenry about the excesses of military and intelligence agencies, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden caused massive damage to the institutions charged with security.

Among the charges levied against Snowden, it is claimed several Al Qaeda-linked groups altered their security procedures, codes became harder to crack and technology firms became less willing to cooperate with spy agencies as a result of the leaks.

READ MORE: GCHQ spying ‘doesn’t breach human rights’ – UK tribunal

The report, ‘Surveillance After Snowden’, argues claims of the “mass surveillance of ordinary citizens or brazenly looking at their emails” are simply untrue.

Report author Robin Simcox argues that the relationship between public and agencies need to be reengineered to ensure a “greater societal acceptance” of spies work.

He told the MailOnline: “Western citizens are generally happy for the state to have an army with sophisticated weaponry because they know that it will not be misused; there is a faith that the checks and balances are sufficient to ensure public safety.

“This same principle should apply to the weaponry given to our spy agencies.

He said that far from brining agencies into disrepute, Snowden “only exposed that our agencies are essentially doing what we ask: they are not spying on the phone calls of ordinary citizens or brazenly looking at our emails; they are legally intercepting certain communications in an attempt to advance the national interest.

The state giving up these powers invites attack from terrorists, cyber-criminals or a host of other state and non-state actors.

The Henry Jackson Society’s views run contrary to those of other interested parties.

Some in the intelligence community argue that far from forcing spies onto the back foot, his revelations changed very little.

In March this year, the head of Norwegian intelligence took precisely that view. Norway’s then-spy chief Kjell Grandhagen said there have been virtually no changes to the way the US National Security Agency (NSA) and its partners operate.

My main observation is that the Snowden leaks have resulted in very few fundamental changes to how intelligence services work. Some changes to legislation and duties have taken place, but in the main business continues as before,” he said in a speech to the Oslo Military Society.

READ MORE: Snowden ‘changed nothing’ says Norway’s top spy, ‘business as usual’

Other say the Snowden leaks represented a positive catalyst for change, including a number of senior intelligence officials from around the world who gathered for a conference in Ditchley Park in Oxfordshire last week.

Investigative journalist Duncan Campbell, who attended the conference, posted on his website: “Perhaps to many participants’ surprise, there was general agreement across broad divides of opinion that Snowden – love him or hate him – had changed the landscape; and that change towards transparency, or at least “translucency” and providing more information about intelligence activities affecting privacy, was both overdue and necessary.

The meeting, Campbell wrote, was attended by an influential “collection of current and former CIA, GCHQ and SIS officials, counter-terrorism commanders, security managers, and former permanent secretaries present, as well as the former chair of Britain's Intelligence and Security Committee.

No-one tried to debate whether Snowden was a villain, traitor or hero,” he added.