In a wide-ranging piece about the National Security Agency on “60 Minutes” Sunday night, one agency official indicated that making an amnesty deal with NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in exchange for the files he took is “worth having a conversation about.”
But Richard Ledgett, in charge of getting to the bottom of damage that Snowden’s leaks caused, underscored that making a deal with Snowden isn’t a unanimous feeling among his associates and that much would need to happen first.
“My personal view is, yes, it’s worth having a conversation about,” Ledgett said on camera regarding a Snowden deal. “I would need assurances that the remainder of the data could be secured, and my bar for those assurances would be very high. It would be more than just an assertion on his part.”
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told The Guardian that Ledgett was stating a “personal view” and that her agency’s position “has not changed.”
“Mr. Snowden is facing very serious charges and should return to the United States to face them,” she added.
More from The Guardian:
Any amnesty would have to come through the Justice Department, which did not respond to a request for comment.
The NSA’s director, General Keith Alexander, told CBS that granting Snowden amnesty would reward the leaks and potentially incentivize future ones. But Alexander is retiring in the spring, joining his civilian deputy John C Inglis, and Ledgett is rumored to be a top candidate to replace Inglis.
Meanwhile, Alexander took time during the “60 Minutes” segment to assure Americans of a few things
“The fact is, we’re not collecting everybody’s email,” he told CBS News correspondent John Miller. “We’re not collecting everybody’s phone things, we’re not listening to that. Our job is foreign intelligence, and we’re very good at that.”
Miller asked again: Is the perception true that the NSA is collecting phone calls of Americans? Alexander answered again: Not true.
Alexander insisted that the the NSA can target U.S. persons only with probable cause and a court order, and fewer than 60 people globally fit that description.
“We’re doing two things,” Alexander added. “We’re defending this country from future terrorist attacks and we’re defending our civil liberties and privacy. There’s no reason that we would listen to the phone calls of Americans. There’s no intelligence value in that. There’s no reason that we’d want to read their email. There is no intelligence value in that.”
Here’s video of the “60 Minutes” segment via CBS News:
(H/T: Drudge Report)