August 4, 2013
Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that he wouldn’t be surprised if the Russian and Chinese governments had already acquired classified American information allegedly taken by Edward Snowden while he was working as a government contractor for the National Security Agency.
“No, it wouldn’t surprise me, ” Dempsey told ABC’s Martha Raddatz during an interview for “This Week,” saying earlier that that amount of information in Snowden’s possession was “obviously significant.”
Snowden is reported to be carrying 4 laptops with NSA secrets. He was granted one-year asylum this week in Russia after being holed up in a Moscow airport since late June, where he had arrived from Hong Kong. While he was in Hong Kong he revealed himself as the person who had leaked information about NSA surveillance programs to The Guardian and The Washington Post.
Asked by Raddatz if it would be feasible for either the Russians or Chinese to obtain the information on one of Snowden’s computers without physically possessing it, Dempsey said he was unsure.
“I mean, that’s one of those technical means that would exceed my knowledge. But I’d certainly be concerned about that,” he said.
Snowden has denied giving any of the classified information to either government and also denied that they were able to acquire the contents of his laptops via some other method.
Dempsey, the highest ranking military officer in the United States, condemned Snowden’s alleged actions and told Raddatz that the 30-year-old man has caused considerable damage to the intelligence gathering operations of the United States.
“Snowden’s not a guy that’s doing these things for honorable or noble purpose,” Demspey said. “He’s not doing this to make some kind of statement or spur a debate.”
“He has caused us some considerable damage to our intelligence architecture. Our adversaries are changing the way that they communicate. My job is to protect the country. So I am very concerned about this,” Dempsey added.
Dempsey Backs Away From Sec. John Kerry’s Comments on Egypt
During the interview, Dempsey was asked by Raddatz about Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent comments in which he asserted the Egyptian military was “restoring democracy” when it ousted President Mohamed Morsi, who was democratically-elected.
In an interview with a Pakistani television station, Kerry said, “The military did not take over, to the best of our judgment so, so far. To run the country, there’s a civilian government. In effect, they were restoring democracy.”
Dempsey declined to endorse Kerry’s description of the events in Egypt.
“Well, that’s why I didn’t sign up for that characterization when you just asked me. I think, frankly, that we will know what it is soon, but it may not be apparent,” Dempsey said.
“I’m not going to speak for the Secretary of State. He’s the leading diplomat of our nation,” he added after Raddatz asked if Kerry had misspoken.