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The NSA has repeatedly tried to discredit Edward Snowden. Lately they say that the leaked documents have helped terrorists. Many criticized this move, and now there’s proof that the NSA’s claims are unfounded. Flashpoint Global Partners (FGP) investigated the assertion. They concluded that Snowden’s release of certain documents did not weaken national security.
Snowden Leaks Did Not Alert Terrorists
The NSA made some very specific accusations against Snowden. One of these is how he has helped Al Qaeda by tipping them off. The documents revealed the agency’s spying activities, and the terrorist group improved communications in response. This was backed by a report by Recorded Future, a web intelligence service. The August report claims that the group linked the leaked documents to changes made in the communications protocols of Al Qaeda and similar groups. Recorded Future says that these groups suddenly revamped their entire system of online interaction only a few months after the leaks were released. It implies that this is too much of a coincidence since the encryption used for communication had not changed in seven years prior to the leaks. It implies that Al Qaeda and other threats are now encrypting communications on Android devices, phones, and Mac computers because they learned they were being spied on.
More Unfounded Accusations
National Intelligence Director James Clapper has made several claims against Snowden besides those relating to Al Qaeda. Remember first, however, that Clapper is the one whose lies to Congress were revealed by the same Snowden documents. One of Clapper’s accusations is that the Snowden leaks are responsible for the formation of ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. He also said that the Crimean occupation by Russia was aided by the information contained in the leaked documents.
NSA Falsely Accused Snowden
FGP, a deep web monitoring service, did its own research in September. The company has made a very different assessment. They say that neither Al Qaeda nor ISIS have benefited from the Snowden documents. First off, the use of more refined modern algorithms based on open source technology rather than their own breed of encryption does not mean that Snowden had anything to do with the changes. The encryption capabilities of terrorist groups were apparently made available by fresh software downloads. But FGP did not find much open source material on jihadi online sources and channels.
They further reveal that there has actually not been that big of a change in methods of online interaction since the Snowden documents came out. Any evidence of a Snowden-inspired expansion of encryption in their communications is purely circumstantial. There are also no solid ramifications that can link back to Snowden. In addition, big changes in the interactions between Al Qaeda and other groups happened a long time before the Snowden revelations. They already knew that the US was spying on them, and the leaks merely confirmed the targeted surveillance. The groups may have begun upgrading their encryption technologies after the leaks went public.
FGP says that the documents have had no measurable effect on their decision to expand encryption to mobile devices or the specific technologies they applied. In fact, according to their dark web mining operation, jihadists were not even talking about Snowden when the leaks came out. They were focused on getting their hands on some new encryption software. The software had been developed specifically for people like them. Software development takes time, and it was not created as a result of the leaked documents.