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Edward Snowden

"This report diminishes the committee," Snowden responded. (Photo: Reuters)

House Intel Report on Snowden Dismissed as 'Laughable' Smear Attempt

'Their report is so artlessly distorted that it would be amusing if it weren't such a serious act of bad faith.'

Nika Knight Beauchamp

The U.S. House Intelligence Committee on Thursday released an unclassified summary of its report on National Security Administration (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden, who exposed the agency's mass surveillance operations in 2013, in which the committee roundly condemns Snowden as "not a whistleblower" and a "serial fabricator."

"The American people deserve better. This report diminishes the [House Intelligence] committee."
—Edward Snowden
The three-page summary of the report (pdf), whose publication appeared timed for the nationwide release of Oliver Stone's biopic of Snowden, was widely decried as an orchestrated smear attempt—intended to discredit Snowden just as Stone's sympathetic portrayal of the whistleblower and a growing campaign calling for a presidential pardon both make headlines nationwide.

"By total coincidence, the report they claim was years in the making comes out right as the 'Snowden' movie does," commented Trevor Timm, co-founder and the executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation.

"The committee supposed to oversee the NSA is very upset at the movie about the guy who started actual NSA oversight," added The Intercept reporter Alex Emmons.

The report appeared to focus on supposed workplace transgressions Snowden committed while working for the NSA, such as cc'ing a higher-level manager on an email thread reporting a critical problem with CIA software, "doctoring performance evaluations" when he was in fact reporting that the evaluation program was susceptible to hacking, and calling in sick when he was leaking the documents detailing the NSA's extensive global wiretapping of private citizens.

Many progressive voices were amused that the charges contained in the report summary were so sparse: "Wait. Is that it? If this three-page report from the House Intelligence Committee on Snowden is all the dirt they have on them, I'm disappointed," wrote ACLU principal technologist

That's true. Perhaps they reveal in the classified report that he left the office at 4:55 a few times and stole paperclips."

The report also suggests Snowden is a foreign agent, referring to him at points as a "guest of the Kremlin" and "traveling to Hong Kong with stolen secrets." In one portion, the report alleges that a Russian official said outright that Snowden shared secrets with the Russian government—which Snowden notes is "speculation presented as fact."

In fact, Snowden slammed every critique contained in the report's summary in a scathing series of Tweets:

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