NSA Chief: Intel Leak Caused ‘Irreversible and Significant Damage’

June 18, 2013 - 1:04 PM

NSA Surveillance

Gen. Keith B. Alexander, commander, U.S. Cyber Command and director, National Security Agency (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

(CNSNews.com) - National Security Agency Director Gen. Keith Alexander told the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday that the NSA whistleblower that leaked classified information on the agency’s surveillance program caused “irreversible and significant damage” to the nation and helped America’s enemies.

“I think it was irreversible and significant damage to this nation,” Alexander said Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) asked how damaging it was “to the national security of the American people that this trust was violated.”

“Has this helped America’s enemies?” Bachmann asked Alexander.

“I believe it has, and I believe it will hurt us and our allies,” Alexander responded.

“What I think what you have told this committee today is that the problem is not with the NSA, that it’s trying to keep the American people safe,” Bachmann said. “You’ve told us you have 100 percent auditable system that has oversight both from the courts and from Congress.

“It seems to me that the problem here is that of an individual who worked within the system, who broke laws and who chose to declassify highly sensitive classified information. It seems to me that’s where our focus should be – on how there could be a betrayal of trust and how a traitor could do something like this to the American people,” she added.

The whereabouts of Edward Snowden, a former CIA employee who claimed to be the source of the leaks, are unknown. He reportedly checked out of a Hong Kong hotel, where he was last seen. The Justice Department has yet to charge him with a crime, but if and when that happens, the U.S. would have to ask Interpol for a provisional request to arrest him pending extradition to the U.S., Fox News reported.