Another Hatchet Job on Snowden
Posted By Ray McGovern On March 3, 2017 @ 11:00 pm
In depicting National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden as a Russian spy, author Edward Jay Epstein acknowledges his debt to the CIA’s famously paranoid counterintelligence chief James Jesus Angleton, who specialized in counterintuitive thinking that surely smeared more honest CIA officers than it snared actual spies.At a recent book signing at the Hoover Institute in Washington, D.C., for How America Lost Its Secrets: Edward Snowden, the Man and the Theft, Epstein proudly announced that he learned the tricks of the counterintelligence trade from the now-deceased Angleton.
But Angleton, like other counterintelligence sleuths, assumed the carte-blanche right to smother a slender fact with weighty assumptions and then weave upon them a hefty garment of allegations, speculation and imagination fitting with the occupational predisposition to detect a spy.
Over the decades, it’s conceivable that this “methodology” may have caught a spy or two (although Angleton is perhaps best known for missing the notorious Soviet spy Kim Philby).But creating a counterfactual, evidence-free scenario seems an irresponsible way to write about Edward Snowden, a whistleblower responsible for the most consequential intelligence leak in U.S. history.
In his new book, Epstein spins his intricate web to prove Snowden’s supposed treachery around the fact that after leaking secrets to Western journalists in Hong Kong, Snowden wound up in Russia.
The well-known reality is that Snowden never intended to get stuck in Russia but was stranded there when the US government blocked his path to South America. Yet, however clear the record regarding how and why Snowden found asylum there, Epstein sees a more sinister logic.
As a veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency and a private citizen who has befriended many government whistleblowers, I happen to have known Angleton and currently know Snowden (whom I count among my friends).