(Greek: κρυπτεία / krupteía, from κρυπτός / kruptós, “hidden, secret things”)

ASSESSMENT: Edward Snowden KGB Asset

with 4 comments



Since the revelations began and the man without a country odyssey started all of our lives have changed at a fundamental level regarding our digital and private lives. The now million plus document trove is being parsed out by Glen Greenwald and others for the public to get a look into the inner workings of the state surveillance apparatus much to the consternation of the IC as well as the government and the dismay of the public. However you look upon Mr. Snowden and his choice you have to admit that the information does lend an insight into the great potential for abuse of the apparatus that the NSA has put together no matter what they may tell you they are doing or not doing to protect us. You see the point is no matter what alleged safeguards and altruism may lie within the apparatus and it’s employees it’s still ripe for abuse that will never see the light of day because it’s all classified and codified by the government. This is the point of the exercise as I see it from Mr. Snowden’s point of view and the aegis behind his doing what he did. Of course from day one darker minds would make assertions that there were darker geopolitical machinations at play and this was all just a dastardly plan to destroy us as a country. Of course as the passion play played out it was first China, the go to country for all our woe’s of late (APT etc) but as time wore on and Snowden found a perch in Russia, it’s now “clear” to some in the government that the plot was in fact Russian all along.


Mike Rogers has been the bell ringer on the idea that Snowden from the get go was in fact a handled and groomed asset by a foreign power. His most recent bellowing without any real evidence is that Snowden was in fact an asset for Russia from the start and furthermore that all of this was done to damage the US and seek primacy once again on the international stage. Of course as I mentioned already Mike cannot offer any evidence and he alludes to “secrecy” of the data but in reality until you have proof that you can emphatically state and present the people it’s all just wild speculation and a form of conspiracy or propaganda in and of itself. While it is possible that Snowden was from the start an asset of the KGB  FSB, the evidence thus far for motive, methods, and follow through are somewhat thin and I cannot go on the record as thinking he was handled from the start by Russia or any other nation state. The fact that Snowden ended up in Russia at Sheremetyevo may in fact be because of the machinations of Assange and Wikileaks brokering the deal to get him there and then to get him allowed into the country not as a plan all along. There is more evidence to say that this is in fact the case then there is of any KGB FSB actions.


Using the paradigm of “Occam’s Razor” here let’s run through the possibilities on whether or not the claims being made by Mike Rogers and others out there that this was a carefully planned operation that cultivated Ed Snowden to become the largest leaker in history.

  • Ed Snowden is a naive individual who became through a sequence of events, an administrator within the IC networks and began to see things he thought were illegal and immoral
  • He used his knowledge of hacking and technologies to accumulate data through his own administrative access and social engineering
  • Once he saw the data he decided to leak all that he could and after seeing what happened to Manning made a plan to go to a country that in all the spy novels is easy to infiltrate and ex-filtrate out of
  • The NSA itself had poor OPSEC and threats from insiders were poorly covered thus making this possible (proven to be the case)
  • The NSA could not even keep track of internal access and exploitation (proven to be the case)
  • He contacted the press and was turned down by some until he met Greenwald and Poitras who then planned with him how to release the data and to firewall Snowden off
  • While in HK it became clear he could not stay there once the NSA/USA/UKUSA and other apparatus began working in the background to extradite him
  • Poitras, Greenwald, and then Wikileaks ex-filtrated Snowden out of HK and to Russia where a brokered interim solution of the airport no mans zone was at least possible
  • Snowden is a prize for the KGB FSB after the fact from not only an intelligence perspective but also a political one that thumbs its nose at the US (a win win for Putin)


  •  Edward Snowden was a carefully orchestrated long term asset by the KGB FSB trained by them to infiltrate the NSA and then use his domain admin/root access to steal them blind, exploiting their logical and technical vulnerabilities who they then ex-filtrated to HK and to Russia as a smoke screen for their own operational cover
    • Snowden was handled by KGB FSB for years while coming up the ranks as an UN-credentialed cleared individual clearly taking advantage of the US’ lax clearance and oversight process post 9/11
    • Snowden was in contact with Russia from the start and is a consummate operator perhaps even a cleverly created cutout sleeper agent
    • Once gathering all the data Snowden then passed it to Russia for them to digest and then leak to the world to cover their own operations and shame the US
    • Snowden is now a hero of the state in Russia and will get a hero’s treatment with access to all that Russia can offer in the post Soviet Oligarchy (inclusive Anna Chapman visits)

Hmmm is it just me or does the razor only really cut one way?


My take on the whole affair is that Snowden was not a paid/cultivated/handled asset of the KGB FSB nor do I think that he was aided in any way by Russia in carrying out this leak/exploit. What I do think is that he is naive but also that what he was seeing, what we are all now seeing today in the news made him feel that the accumulation of power in a central secret body was anathema to freedom and the American ethos. As we have seen in the news there have been many things that the government has allowed, even shall we say promulgated, that are clearly violations of the US Constitution no matter the inveigling that might occur by those in power as to it’s legality. So I for one can see why someone like Snowden might do what they did outside of their own propensities for spy novels and a sense of right and wrong.

The realities are that no matter the attestations by those running the programs and their need to use them, there is always a chance of their abuse and subsequent burial of the facts through classifications and National Security letters as we have seen these last years. Were egregious abuses happening and are they still today? I am sure there are some, after all this is nothing new and all you need do to confirm that is Google Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? or look just to recent history with the Plame Affair to see how abuses can and have happened. So is it really outside the pale for someone with a conscience and perhaps an overactive imagination to think that great wrongs are being committed in all our names? I think that while there may have been no abuses “may” I also think that the capacity for abuse and the infrastructure to hide them is easily seen within the current architecture of the IC apparatus of the NSA and their programs. After all, if you want to ask about the idea that if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear, I ask you to tell me just exactly how you feel every time you go through a TSA checkpoint at the airport today.

Finally, I would also like to touch on the idea that the governments own hubris and now embarrassment is firing the boilers on this whole blame game that Snowden is in fact a handled asset of the Russians. I think that the NSA/USGOV and IC community feel the sting of their inadequacies as they have been laid bare for all to see. You see, Snowden did not carry out some 3l33t hacking here to gather the data. He used common techniques and vulnerabilities within the NSA and other government IC bodies to steal data and put them all on a USB stick and then walk out with them. It’s a simple trick and the top of that list is actually just socially engineering people for their passwords within the confines of the most secretive and secret IC shops in the world. Now that has to sting a bit wouldn’t you agree? So there is shame all around here on the part of the government and it puts them all in a weak position tactically. The reactions of all those at play seems to be more along the lines of dialogue from a playground spat rather than state or spycraft and it’s sad really. As the immortal words of GW Bush can attest;

“There’s an old saying in Tennessee – I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee – that says, fool me once, shame on – shame on you. Fool me – you can’t get fooled again.”

To me, it seems that Snowden just did what he did because of a myriad reasons that also include a certain amount of self aggrandizement. However, I can point to things in our own history and to popular media that may explain why someone might do something like this on the grounds that they think it’s illegal, immoral, and against the tenets of the USA. While POTUS is right about how important these types of programs can be in the war on terror and the every day intelligence gathering that every country needs to survive, it should also be possible to have some level of oversight to disallow for abuses of power to happen and happen with great frequency due to over classification. These are fundamental changes that should occur but the reality is that the very nature of the work being done and the culture within it’s halls will stoip any real progress being made. In the end nothing will change and the NSA will continue to collect all the data it can like a giant hoover-matic for later sorting and use.

Having grown up in the era of Nixon though, and other revelations like Iran Contra, I for one not only know that these things will continue to happen but that they have in the past and should be in our collective consciousness. Unfortunately many do not remember and the only entree into such ideas may in fact be cinema… I leave you with this scene from “Three Day’s Of The Condor”

Not everything in cinema is just fantasy…

“scr hrw lgihr kzpzz cwl nci pjwt”

Written by Krypt3ia

2014/01/20 at 14:25

4 Responses

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  1. If I were trying to fit this into the confines of what I thought would be a good movie, I might make a movie that would go like this.

    I’d have Snowden as CIA. I’d throw in lots of hints, stuff like how a background fuzz at the start, like how lot of the CIA supported Ron Paul, how people like Erik Prince that were known to be ahem, very the CIA were openly saying how the NSA was out of control. (I’ll have to establish a rising tide of Libertarianism in the CIA to keep folks guessing….) The whole story set up revolves around this monstrous NSA agency that is out of control -using work around left and right to do the illegal and to skirt accountability.

    I’d set up a whole Intelligence Agency WAR – Oh there’s tons of VERY LOOSE tidbits that could be tied up in the story.

    I’d have some sort of national security objective wanted by the President and the top of the CIA to declassify as much material as they possibly could – and the NSA saying Not our stuff, oh hell no. CIA pushes. Suddenly there’s leaks about the head of the CIA involved in a ghastly affair or something…he might even have to resign.

    So you set up a black op and get a CIA agent into the NSA to FORCE declassification, just like you did with the state department. You can even use the same key players- save money on actors and union dues.
    Putin’s over there like, yeah, I’ll take care of your guy, he’ll be safe over here while you see how everything shakes down over there.

    Of course my movie is a better MOVIE, because it has actual heroes. You only realize it after the movie is over though. The bastards at the CIA are actually heroes, and the incompetent SOB in charge of the nation is actually getting his objectives accomplished through actual self-sacrifice.

    Then you’re like damn, all just fantasy, because no way in hell a politician is going to be that self-sacrificial or that the CIA could ever actually do anything that might be good for the public.

    Throw some little tidbit out in the closing scenes where the real power at the CIA is saying. “Watch that bastard politician take credit for all this in 20 years if it turns out the public finally gets behind this idea of Snowden doing the nation such a great service.” Then you realize, as the credits for the actors roll, that the CIA is really the F out of control too.

    I might name it System Control. Jason Dohring is going to be Edward Snowden.

    In the end, does any of this sort of conjecture even matter beyond entertainment? Are we talking about Snowden is this, Snowden is that, when we should be focusing on the big problem in the American game regulation seems to have some sort of contractor or work around cheat code? Be it ’employment agencies’ ‘Sweep Accounts’ or ‘Blackwater’??


    2014/01/20 at 17:50

  2. The idea that Snowden is a Russian plant is absurd. Russian spies don’t go public with huge troves of information that are largely about how thoroughly the United States Federal Government has shit all over the 4th amendment.

    A Russian plant would have stolen military and industrial information for Russia and stayed in place as long as possible. They would have never gone public and exposed themselves because it increases the risk that previous leaks would be detected and steps taken to invalidate any information cribbed.

    From a Fed perspective, the growing chorus of voices hailing Snowden as a hero who took a stand, honoring his oath to protect and defend the Constitution against domestic enemies who regarded the 4th amendment as an inconvenience rather than a proscription, conflicts with their agenda and their desire to prosecute him as a deterrent. So to avoid Snowden appearing a hero, and possibly becoming difficult to prosecute because of it, they orchestrate a PR campaign to smear him with doubts. It’s disgusting.


    2014/01/20 at 18:48

  3. To be frank, I would suspect (I might be wrong) the Snowden revelations were not a huge shock to you. You have been ringing the alarm bell for years. Perhaps the size and scale of the allegations were surprising? I’m not so sure.

    I’m making this comment more because I’m quite surprised with how gentle you are in relation to Snowden and his actions.

    In concert with Greenwald et al (I don’t remember you commenting on him – I’d be interested in your views) they have orchestrated a situation (especially in the UK) in which are Security Agencies are severely and aggressively attacked by the media at every turn. I don’t know if this has impacted on their operations, but one would surmise it could not have helped.

    I know that government overreach has been of great import to you and understandably so, but do you not feel that perhaps the pendulum has swung too far in terms of the media and public consciousness?

    If you ever get a chance, I would very much appreciate your thoughts on a very short book that has been published by a respected UK author (jeremy Duns):

    Stuart (@StegoPax)

    2014/12/08 at 08:01

  4. Sorry, not sure what happened there, the book is here:

    Stuart (@StegoPax)

    2014/12/08 at 08:03

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