NSA releases Edward Snowden e-mail exchange

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Story highlights

  • Edward Snowden calls an e-mail exchange released by the NSA "incomplete"
  • The NSA says Snowden inquired about training material
  • Snowden tells NBC he "reported that there were real problems" with the NSA
  • In an e-mail released by the agency, an official invites Snowden to call and discuss further

The NSA has released an e-mail exchange between Edward Snowden and the agency's general counsel's office, countering a claim the former contractor made in an interview this week.

Speaking to NBC News in an interview that aired Wednesday, Snowden claimed that he'd reached out to the office while working as an National Security Agency contractor to report what he saw as an abuse of power by the agency.

"I reported that there were real problems with the way the NSA was interpreting its legal authorities," he told NBC's Brian Williams.

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In the e-mail exchange released by the NSA Thursday, Snowden requests clarification about training material he'd received, asking whether executive orders can override federal laws.

The general counsel's office responded to Snowden's e-mail, saying that executive orders have the "force and effect of law" but cannot override a statute.

"Please give me a call if you would like to discuss further," the e-mail concludes.

In his interview with NBC, Snowden said that after raising concerns, he essentially was told to "stop asking questions."

He described his contact with the general counsel's office as an indication of what he said were his efforts to go through official channels to raise his concerns about the NSA before leaking classified documents.

In a statement Thursday, the NSA said the e-mail exchange it released was the only communication found and there was no evidence Snowden followed up.

"We have searched for additional indications of outreach from him in those areas and to date have not discovered any engagements related to his claims," the statement said.

Snowden said Thursday that the e-mail exchange released by the NSA was "a strangely tailored and incomplete leak," telling The Washington Post that it "only shows the NSA feels it has something to hide."

"If the White House is interested in the whole truth, rather than the NSA's clearly tailored and incomplete leak today for a political advantage, it will require the NSA to ask my former colleagues, management, and the senior leadership team about whether I, at any time, raised concerns about the NSA's improper and at times unconstitutional surveillance activities," Snowden told the newspaper. "It will not take long to receive an answer."