Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Intel chief condemns NSA leaks that led to Pulitzer Prizes

TAMPA — The nation's intelligence chief didn't wait for the next-day, Pulitzer Prize hangovers to recede before criticizing leaks of National Security Agency surveillance that helped two newspapers win journalism's highest honor.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told a crowd at the Tampa Convention Center on Tuesday that the NSA leaks, which helped The Guardian and Washington Post win a Pulitzer, put the nation at risk and jeopardized American lives.

The comments came at an intelligence conference less than a day after the Pulitzer Prizes were announced. Clapper did not directly speak about the prizes, nor any newspaper's individual coverage.

His ire was directed mostly at Edward Snowden, the NSA contract employee whose leaks caused a crisis in the U.S. intelligence community.

"The very first article, and many of those published since, have been inaccurate, misleading or incomplete in how they characterize intelligence activities," Clapper said. "Still, they revealed vital intelligence secrets. So we have watched as our intelligence advantage eroded in front of our eyes."

Speaking at an intelligence symposium that attracted industry and military officials, Clapper said the leaks by Snowden "were potentially the most massive and most damaging theft of intelligence information in the nation's history."

Clapper said he was upset to read a recent article that said students often refer to Snowden as a "personal hero" in essays written as they seek college admission.

"And the idea that young people see Edward Snowden as hero really bothers me," Clapper said.

He said Snowden could have approached appropriate investigators, not the media, had he been legitimately concerned about the NSA's alleged infringements on civil liberties.

"I personally believe that whistle-blowing in its highest form takes an incredible amount of courage and integrity," Clapper said. "But Snowden isn't a whistle-blower."

Instead, Clapper said, students should look up to someone like Joe Darby, a soldier who brought to the attention of authorities prisoner abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison used by U.S. forces in Iraq.

"I'd like to see admissions essays on him," Clapper said.

The Snowden leaks, Clapper said, limited the nation's intelligence sources and schooled the nation's enemies. In fact, he said, adversaries have already changed the way they communicate.

The intelligence conference, organized by the U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation, continues through Thursday.

William R. Levesque can be reached at

Intel chief condemns NSA leaks that led to Pulitzer Prizes 04/15/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 16, 2014 12:56pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Data breach exposes 469 Social Security numbers


    Social Security numbers for up to 469 people were exposed in a data breach at Florida the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The breach, which the agency believes happened about two weeks ago, occurred in an online payments system, spokesperson Jenn Meale said Monday.

    Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam on Monday that nearly 500 people may have had their Social Security numbers obtained in a data breach in his office.
[Times file photo]

  2. Trigaux: Can Duke Energy Florida's new chief grow a business when customers use less power?


    Let's hope Harry Sideris has a bit of Harry Houdini in him.

    Duke Energy Florida president Harry Sideris laid out his prioriities for the power company ranging from improved customer service to the use of more large-scale solar farms to provide electricity. And he acknowledged a critical challenge: People are using less electricity these days. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  3. Editorial: Preserve wild Florida before it's too late


    The last dairy farm in Hillsborough County has milked its final cow, the pastures sold to developers who will build 1,000 new homes. The remnants of the last commercial citrus grove in Pinellas County, where the Sunshine State's famed industry began in the 19th century, were sold last year to make room for 136 homes. …

    As dairy farms and citrus groves disappear, much more needs to be done to avoid paving over Florida’s wild spaces.
  4. Florida concealed weapons permit holders exposed in computer hack


    More than 16,000 concealed weapons permit holders in Florida may have had their names accidently made public because of a data breach at the The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

  5. Editorial: Careless words unfit for a mayor


    Even his critics marvel at how well Bob Buckhorn has grown into the job since first being elected as Tampa's mayor in 2011. His grace in public and his knack for saying and doing the right things has reflected well on the city and bestowed civic pride in the mayor's office. That's why Buckhorn's cheap shot at the media …

    Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn fires a .50 caliber machine gun from a rigid hull inflatable boat during a Special Operations Capabilities Demonstration at the Tampa Convention Center last year. [JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]