After Edward Snowden spoke at a TED talks series in March 2014, Chris Anderson, the same TED host who interviewed Snowden days earlier, spoke with NSA representative Richard Ledgett to hear his view on Snowden’s actions in 2013. One of Ledgett’s first key criticisms of Snowdens actions is that, if Snowden thought something unlawful was being done at the NSA, he had other options to report it besides leaking classified documents to the public. It seems Snowden felt that the groups in place with the ability to keep the NSA’s operations in check, his NSA supervisors, the NSA Inspector General, the Navy Inspector General, the Pacific Fleet Inspector General, the Intelligence Committee Inspector General, were too closely tied to the NSA to make a fair judgement about their controversial meta data gathering operation.
Ledgett also said that Snowden’s actions put Americans service men and women, and civilians at risk by tipping off criminals domestic and abroad to the NSA’s surveillance. This allowed some suspects to evade capture, because now they had knowledge of the NSA’s tactics and could avoid using the channels Snowden revealed as non-discrete. For this reason, the US department of justice charged Snowden with theft, as well as a violation of the Espionage act, “unauthorized communication of national defense information”. Each of these charges would most likely result in a prison sentence if Snowden returned to the US and stood trial.
Andersons interview of NSA Deputy Director Richard Ledgett can be viewed here: