WASHINGTON - A top U.S. military intelligence official said Tuesday that the Pentagon will have to make costly changes to programs and personnel because of leaks by former National Security Agency analyst Edward Snowden.
Defense Intelligence Agency chief Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn told the House Intelligence Committee that his agency has to assume that Snowden took every document he accessed, and that much of it concerned Pentagon programs. He said he believes there will have to be changes in all branches of the U.S. military because investigators have to assume the information is compromised.
"What he potentially made off with ... transcends" the NSA's telephone and Internet collection programs, said Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. "Less than 10 percent has to do with domestic surveillance programs," he said.
Clapper has called on Snowden and anyone who is helping him to return the remaining documents that have not yet been published.
Officials have said Snowden downloaded some 1.7 million documents. U.S. intelligence officials have said some of those documents include the identities of undercover operatives. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
In describing the effect of Snowden's leaks, Clapper appeared to carefully retreat from his contention last week to the Senate Intelligence Committee that the disclosures were "the most massive and most damaging theft of intelligence information in our history." Some historians and researchers reacted to that comment by questioning whether the Snowden leaks were more damaging than Soviet spy rings that stole U.S. atomic bomb designs in the 1940s and funneled critical communications data and lethally exposed American informants in Russia in the 1980s and 1990s.
Instead, in his opening Tuesday, Clapper told the House panel that Snowden's leaks were "potentially the most massive and most damaging theft of intelligence information in our history."