Congress calls Edward Snowden a liar in new report

A scathing report by the House Intelligence Committee, backed by liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans, concludes that Edward Snowden was a disgruntled, serial liar who leaked for petty reasons, put American soldiers at risk and remains in continuing contact with Russian intelligence services.

The 37-page review, filled with redactions of classified material, does not accuse Snowden of being a spy, but it seeks to poke holes in nearly every aspect of his account of why he gave reporters reams of classified documents he obtained as a contractor — and trusted insider — with the National Security Agency.

Snowden immediately began denouncing the report on Twitter from his home in Russia, saying its core claims were made "without evidence" and that it established nothing worse than he might have been hard to work with.

His lawyer, Ben Wizner, told NBC News he considers the report "a failed attempt to discredit Edward Snowden, whose actions led to the most significant intelligence reforms in a generation."

See reactions to Edward Snowden's open Q & A:

21 PHOTOS
#AskSnowden
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#AskSnowden
#AskSnowden should facebook be prosecuted for selling user metadata/ usage habits?
#asksnowden IF #Putin tries to deliver you to #Trump, what will u do? Pls don't let it happen. The World needs your voice. Good luck!
#AskSnowden I assume you saw the filme that came out about you. What do you think of it? Is it a correct portrail of what actually happened?
#AskSnowden What are the biggest threats to cybersecurity and online freedom of speech in the coming years?
Should we stay away from technology, or fight for our privacy in the cyber world? How do we make people aware of reality? #AskSnowden
#asksnowden I thought the NSA was using Linux, do they really use Windows ?
Should a range of Radio Frequency be made globally available for digital communication without oversight of governments ? #AskSnowden
@twitter #AskSnowden Do you think MR @realDonaldTrump would approve your return to USA ? Can all charges against you be removed?
#AskSnowden What is your philosophical stance and what moral standards do you hold?
#AskSnowden When whistleblowers are threatened with death and newspapers are the mouthpieces of the government what hope for transparency?
@Snowden @jack @PardonSnowden #AskSnowden 1. Why does twitter censor free speech? 2. Are twitter users able to join via tor after all?
Should we stay away from technology, or fight for our privacy in the cyber world? How do we make people aware of reality? #AskSnowden
#AskSnowden Would you ever consider starting a security company or collaborating with a start up company on security implementation
@PardonSnowden #asksnowden after all the recent "claims" in US,Do you think the hackers are actually in Russia or are they using a ghost IP?
@PardonSnowden #AskSnowden How can we effectively ensure democracy is not overtaken by the ultrarich?
Are you as concerned about gov'ts and corporations spying on journalists as I am? How can there be democracy in this context? #AskSnowden
#AskSnowden Even though the leaks were to disturb the election, would it be in our best interest to ignore Clintons crimes or keep Trump?
With technology developing & evolving, what's the thing you're most worried about, in terms of both surveillance & in general? #AskSnowden
@Snowden @jack @PardonSnowden #AskSnowden how has your life been this year? {i hope youll have a merry christmas! You too Jack}
Your visa in Russia is going to be over in summer 2017. Is Russia or any other country going to support you after this? #AskSnowden
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"The report wholly ignores Snowden's repeated and courageous criticism of Russian surveillance and censorship laws," Wizner said. "It combines demonstrable falsehoods with deceptive inferences to paint an entirely fictional portrait of an American whistleblower."

Rep. Adam Schiff, who represents a bright blue district in California and is the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said the two-year review of classified documents explodes many myths advanced by Snowden supporters.

"Snowden and his defenders claim that he is a whistleblower, but he isn't," Schiff said. "Most of the material he stole had nothing to do with Americans' privacy, and its compromise has been of great value to America's adversaries and those who mean to do America harm."

The report takes direct aim at Snowden's stated motives for removing an estimated 1.5 million documents from NSA in what officials have called the most significant leak of national security information in American history.

It portrays him as a serial exaggerator and fabricator who first exaggerated the importance of his job at the CIA — where he worked before joining NSA — and then lied about having ethical qualms about it. It says he cheated on a test that got him a job with NSA's elite Tailored Access Operations office, known as TAO.

Snowden has said that his "breaking point" was Director of National Intelligence James Clapper's false statement to Congress in March 2013 that the intelligence community was not collecting millions of records on Americans. As Snowden and other NSA employees knew, that was not true — the NSA had for years been secretly gathering storing domestic calling records for use in terrorism investigations.

The report says that Snowden began downloading secrets eight months before, just a few weeks after a spat with his NSA supervisors.

One issue of contention, the report says, was a software patch Snowden installed while working at an NSA facility in Hawaii that caused servers to crash. After a manager complained in a mass email, Snowden fired back to a much more senior NSA official, leading to a rebuke that his conduct was unacceptable. He apologized — and then began unauthorized downloads of material, the report says.

Learn more about Snowden's hacking scandal:

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NSA, Diane Feinstein, hacking, Snowden, CIA, general updated 5/7/15
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NSA, Diane Feinstein, hacking, Snowden, CIA, general updated 5/7/15
FORT MEADE, MD - MARCH 13: U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter delivers remarks to an audience of U.S. Cyber Command troops and National Security Agency employees while visiting the NSA and command headquarters March 13, 2015 in Fort Meade, Maryland. Carter emphasized the importance of military cyber operations by making this his first visit with soliders, sailors, airmen and Marines inside the United States since becoming defense secretary in February 2015. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Sen. Diane Feinstein(D-CA) talks with reporters after making remarks on the release of the Senate CIA report on December, 09, 2014 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
A man crosses the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) logo in the lobby of CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia, on August 14, 2008. (Photo credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Detail of the cufflinks of former Deputy CIA Director Michael Morell as he testifies before the House Select Intelligence Committee April 2, 2014 in Washington, DC. The committee heard testimony on the topic of 'The Benghazi Talking Points and Michael J. Morell's Role in Shaping the Administration's Narrative.' (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Former Deputy CIA Director Michael Morell is sworn in prior to testimony before the House Select Intelligence Committee April 2, 2014 in Washington, DC. The committee heard testimony on the topic of 'The Benghazi Talking Points and Michael J. Morell's Role in Shaping the Administration's Narrative.' (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
A picture taken on February 25, 2015 shows the logo of Gemalto in Paris. European SIM maker Gemalto said it had suffered hacking attacks that may have been conducted by US and British intelligence agencies but denied any 'massive theft' of encryption keys that could be used to spy on conversations. (Photo credit: KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)
Visitors gather in the Gemalto NV pavilion at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013. The Mobile World Congress, where 1,500 exhibitors converge to discuss the future of wireless communication, is a global showcase for the mobile technology industry and runs from Feb. 25 through Feb. 28. (Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Gemalto CEO Olivier Piou (C) arrives for a press conference on February 25, 2015 in Paris. European SIM maker Gemalto said it had suffered hacking attacks that may have been conducted by US and British intelligence agencies but denied any 'massive theft' of encryption keys that could be used to spy on conversations. (Photo credit: KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)
Gemalto CEO Olivier Piou (C) gives a press conference on February 25, 2015 in Paris. European SIM maker Gemalto said it had suffered hacking attacks that may have been conducted by US and British intelligence agencies but denied any 'massive theft' of encryption keys that could be used to spy on conversations. (Photo credit: KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)
Gemalto CEO Olivier Piou shows a cell phone sim card before a press conference on February 25, 2015 in Paris. European SIM maker Gemalto said it had suffered hacking attacks that may have been conducted by US and British intelligence agencies but denied any 'massive theft' of encryption keys that could be used to spy on conversations. (Photo credit: KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)
Michael Rogers, director of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), speaks during an interview in New York, U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 8, 2015. The hacking attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment is prompting U.S. officials to rethink when the government should help private companies defend against and deter digital assaults, Rogers said. (Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Visitors chat near a reception desk at the Gemalto NV promotional stand on the opening day of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, on Monday, Feb. 27, 2012. The Mobile World Congress, operated by the GSMA, expects 60,000 visitors and 1400 companies to attend the four-day technology industry event which runs Feb. 27 through March 1. (Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
An employee displays a Gemalto NV M2M quad sim card at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013. The Mobile World Congress, where 1,500 exhibitors converge to discuss the future of wireless communication, is a global showcase for the mobile technology industry and runs from Feb. 25 through Feb. 28. (Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
A symbol photo of a computer hard drive with the logo of the National Security Agency (NSA), on December 12, 2014 in Bonn, Germany. (Photo by Ulrich Baumgarten via Getty Images)
Adm. Michael Rogers, commander of the U.S. Cyber Command and director of the National Security Agency, testifies during a hearing before the House (Select) Intelligence Committee November 20, 2014 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The committee held a hearing on 'Cybersecurity Threats: The Way Forward.' (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) logo is displayed in the lobby of CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia, on August 14, 2008.  (Photo credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
NSA former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden (Above) ponders as he participates via video link from Russia to a parliamentary hearing on the subject of 'Improving the protection of whistleblowers', held by Dutch rapporteur Pieter Omtzigt (Bottom C) on June 23, 2015, at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, northeastern France. Snowden, who has been granted asylum in Russia, is being sought by Washington which has branded him a hacker and a traitor who endangered lives by revealing the extent of the NSA spying program. AFP PHOTO / FREDERICK FLORIN (Photo credit should read FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP/Getty Images)
Dutch rapporteur Pieter Omtzigt (Rear C) holds a parliamentary hearing on the subject of 'Improving the protection of whistleblowers', with the participation of NSA former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden via video link from Russia (Above and L) on June 23, 2015, at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, northeastern France. Snowden, who has been granted asylum in Russia, is being sought by Washington which has branded him a hacker and a traitor who endangered lives by revealing the extent of the NSA spying program. AFP PHOTO / FREDERICK FLORIN (Photo credit should read FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP/Getty Images)
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The report's passage on Snowden's alleged contacts with Russian intelligence services is mostly blacked out, but it quotes the deputy chairman of a Russian defense committee in parliament, who said in June that Snowden did share information with Russian intelligence.

On Twitter, Snowden pointed out that the Russian politician also said he was speculating. But the near-universal view across the U.S. intelligence community is that the Russians have access to much of what Snowden obtained.

Snowden has consistently denied cooperating with Russian intelligence. In 2014, he told NBC News during an exclusive U.S. broadcast interview that he had "no relationship with the Russian government at all" and was not a spy. He told Yahoo News he gave the Russians "the stiff arm."

In terms of damage, the report says the Pentagon identified eight "high risk issues" stemming from the Snowden leaks, including information that would put troops at risk if, as U.S. officials assume, the Russian and Chinese militaries now possess it.

The report lists 21 examples of ways in which Snowden's leaks caused "massive damage" to U.S. national security. But each one is blacked out.

In arguing that Snowden cannot be considered a whistleblower, the report points out that the vast majority of what he took — most of which has never been disclosed — had nothing to do with electronic surveillance issues or privacy and civil liberties.

The report also notes that he spied on colleagues, invading their personal privacy, and that he hunted for personnel records about promotions and hiring at NSA. And it says investigators could find no evidence he ever expressed any concerns to colleagues about the nature of NSA's surveillance work.

Snowden's disclosure that the NSA had been keeping phone calling records on nearly every American led to the overhaul of that program, and some other modest changes in the rules for U.S. surveillance.

But most of his leaks had little impact on how the NSA does business. His disclosure of the so-called PRISM program, for example — under which the federal government spies on foreigners by gathering data from U.S. internet providers — did not lead to the abandonment of that program, which is considered extremely valuable even though it incidentally collects some American data.

However, the law governing that program expires next year, and some commentators have wondered whether Democrats in Congress will support extending it under President Donald Trump.

The reporting on Snowden's disclosures by the Guardian and the Washington Post won major awards, as Snowden noted on Twitter.

"Not one page mentions this journalism won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, reformed our laws, and changed even the President's mind," Snowden said.

Yet the report notes with irony that in 2012, Snowden met with a training officer at NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland and expressed concerns that he failed a test designed to train NSA operatives how to use the PRISM program while adhering to privacy and civil liberties standards.

"At no point during the visit did Snowden raise any concerns about how the NSA used" the program to collect internet data from American companies, the report said.

"This extensive report shows Snowden is no hero," said Rep. Lynn Westemoreland, a Georgia Republican who chairs an intelligence subccommittee that oversees NSA. "He should be brought to justice for his reckless actions."

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