After nearly a week of assuring various world leaders that the U.S. isn't currently spying on their communications, the U.S. has started to warn other countries of a new perceived threat from Edward Snowden's leaked documents. That threat, apparently, is the revelation of secret agreements and collaborations, sometimes between the U.S. and countries who aren't publicly seen as an ally.
Those warnings are going intelligence service to intelligence service, according to a report from the Washington Post, after officials started to get a better handle on what documents Snowden may have.. The ODNI's role in informing other countries of the potential leaks seems to be in part because U.S. officials aren't precisely sure which branches of government know about the secrets contained in the Snowden documents: "In some cases, one part of the cooperating government may know about the collaboration while others — such as the foreign ministry — may not," they explain. In outlining their side of the story, U.S. officials emphasized to the Post that the revelation of these programs would jeopardize their continued existence:
In one case, for instance, the files contain information about a program run from a NATO country against Russia that provides valuable intelligence for the U.S. Air Force and Navy, said one U.S. official, who requested anonymity to discuss an ongoing criminal investigation.
“If the Russians knew about it, it wouldn’t be hard for them to take appropriate measures to put a stop to it,” the official said.
Edward Snowden has said that he is no longer in possession of the large supply of files he obtained from the NSA while working as a contractor for the intelligence agency. Those documents, or at least those he has decided to leak, are in the hands of a handful of journalists: Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, and Barton Gellman of the Post, for starters. Snowden has repeatedly emphasized that his intent was not to harm the U.S., but to reveal the previously unknown extent of the U.S.'s spying efforts for the sake of the public interest. His supporters, including former NSA executive Thomas Drake, have said that that Snowden is "not going to compromise legitimate national intelligence and national security operations,” as Drake told the Post on Thursday.
Meanwhile, NSA chief Keith Alexander accused the reporters in possession of Snowden's documents of "selling" them, without elaborating on what, exactly, he meant by that accusation. On the ongoing reports emerging from those documents, Alexander said on Thursday, "We ought to come up with a way of stopping it. I don’t know how to do that. That’s more of the courts and the policymakers but, from my perspective, it’s wrong to allow this to go on."