Former US intelligence officials have warned that American whistleblower Edward Snowden might disclose US “war plans to China and Russia,” according to a report.
The Hill reported in an article on Wednesday that “US officials might not know for years whether former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden divulged war plans to China and Russia.”
Although Snowden has denied leaking US secrets, former intelligence officials believe that some tactical shifts might be apparent right away.
“We may see some things immediately that might indicate that they have things, but it will create a great deal of uncertainty for years,” former CIA assistant director of central intelligence for analysis and production Mark Lowenthal told The Hill.
Most of Snowden’s documents are related to US military capabilities and plans — documents of particular interest to Russia and China, according to former intelligence officials.
The documents could include everything from defense budget data to information about weapons capabilities to documents about covert actions.
“This includes anything that was being moved out over their communications systems, not just about the collection of intelligence,” former CIA official Gary Berntsen said.
“We have military forces positioned around the world, they push plans back and forth, assessments, deployment information — the whole thing,” he said.
Lowenthal said one clue that Russia or China is privy to the war plans could be adjustments to the way they exercise and train.
“If you notice changes in someone’s exercises, dramatic changes that seem different to you that’s not evolutionary, you would have to think, ‘Why are they doing this? Do they have their hands on war plans; have they read the plans?’ ”
Although Washington closely tracks how other nations exercise, it would take time for other countries to change their methods.
“It depends on how fast they can get their act together. Militaries don’t exactly turn on a dime,” Lowenthal said. “It’s not proof positive, but it would be a good indicator.”
According to Lowenthal, another clue would be changes in military purchases clearly aimed at thwarting US defenses and weapons.
That could take “years and years” to notice since militaries have to buy the equipment, build it, and test it, Lowenthal said.
Last month, member of the House Intelligence Committee Rep. Pete King accused Snowden of revealing his documents to Russia and China.
“We have to assume… all of data he had is available to the Russians. I mean, they can break any type of code,” King said. “I think we have to assume the Chinese have it all, too.”
Snowden, who is currently staying in Russia after Moscow granted him political asylum, caused a major headache for the Obama administration when he revealed US spying programs around the world last year.