Former CIA Head: Snowden Is the Kind of Guy I Used to Recruit, in Russia.
The former head of the CIA’s Directorate of Operations looks at Edward Snowden and sees a narcissistic delusional under-achiever — the perfect candidate to be persuaded to betray his country.
In his new book, No Place to Hide, Glenn Greenwald tells how Edward Snowden once confided to him, “with a hint of embarrassment,” how much he had learned from playing video games. In the black-and-white world of video games, “the protagonist is often an ordinary person, who finds himself faced with grave injustices from powerful forces and has the choice to flee in fear or to fight for his beliefs,” Greenwald writes.
But Edward Snowden’s video-game world is not the real world. As a former director of operations for the CIA, I see Snowden in a very different light. My colleagues and I in the agency spent our careers looking for people like him—on the other side, that is. We worked hard to locate the kind of person who could be persuaded to give up his country’s secrets: narcissistic, often delusional under-achievers whom we could hope to turn into loose-lipped sources in our enemies’ camps and other hostile locations. We understood just how valuable it was to every aspect of our foreign policy to know the plans and intentions of our enemies; the best way to do this was to look for a source and exploit people like Snowden, the National Security Agency leaker, to target for this purpose.
The Russians weren’t slouches either in searching for sources of classified information. They were looking for their Snowdens too. You don’t have to go back too far to see their success in recruiting American spies with unique access - John Anthony Walker, Aldreich Ames, and Robert Hanssen - who did immense damage to our national security. Moreover, Ames and Hanssen’s compromises led to the death of many of our top Russian sources. Walker’s compromise, by contrast, allowed the Soviets to know the locations of U.S. submarines around the world. One shudders to think what more could have been done against us if they had had Snowden’s access to sensitive communications and his technical know-how on how to extract it from the system. Some people think of Snowden as a latter-day Daniel Ellsberg, a noble whistle-blower. Clearly I do not.