Report: NSA Knew About GCHQ’s Destruction of Guardian Laptop Containing Snowden Documents

On August 20 of last year, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said that the White House had no information on a story about the UK spy agency GCHQ demanding that newspaper The Guardian destroy a laptop under the government's supervision containing what was believed to be a cache of documents from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

"I’ve seen the published reports of those accusations, but I don’t have any information for you on that…," he said at that time. "The only thing I know about this are the public reports about this."

But it turns out that the NSA knew days before it happened and the top people in the NSA were briefed and seemed to genuinely approve of GCHQ's action.

According to documents obtained by the Associated Press, US intelligence officials had knowledge of British intelligence officials’ efforts to destroy data in the possession of the UK newspaper The Guardian – before it ever happened.

On July 19, 2013, British officials pressured The Guardian to turn over the data on the laptop, threatening them with a police raid and prosecution under the UK’s Official Secrets Act. At the time, Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger consented to the destruction of the data and the laptop rather than turn the data itself over to GCHQ. The documents obtained by the Associated Press from the NSA under the Freedom of Information Act show that Richard Ledgett, then director of NSA’s Threat Operations Center and a member of NSA’s "Media Leaks Task Force," sent an e-mail to Alexander within hours of Rusbridger’s decision; that email was titled "Guardian data being destroyed."

"Good news, at least on this front," Ledgett wrote, forwarding an e-mail from a redacted source. Alexander forwarded the news to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, noting "Jim- Here is the report I got."

On July 20, a few hours after the destruction of The Guardian laptop was complete, Clapper was verbally briefed by Alexander on the destruction. He sent a thank-you e-mail to Alexander for the "conversation" they had as a reply to the original e-mail thread.

What this means is that either the White House knew and lied about it, or senior officials in the agency lied or at least kept the truth from the White House.

Either way, it doesn't like good for the Administration or for the NSA.

We will have more on this story as it develops…

Source: Ars Technica

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