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US still scrambling to determine scope of what Snowden accessed - report

Published time: August 21, 2013 00:15
View of the National Security Agency (NSA) in the Washington suburb of Fort Meade, Maryland.(AFP Photo / Paul J. Richards)

View of the National Security Agency (NSA) in the Washington suburb of Fort Meade, Maryland.(AFP Photo / Paul J. Richards)

The National Security Agency is still baffled by the extent of information Edward Snowden accessed, according to a new report.

The National Security Agency is still unable to determine the breadth and scope of documents that Edward Snowden accessed and gave to news outlets, nearly two months after the first reports of their contents, anonymous US intelligence officials said.

The sources, who have been briefed on the background of the current internal investigation at the NSA, told NBC News that despite public assurances by US officials that supposed damage from the leaks is understood by the NSA, the spy agency is not actually so confident behind the scenes.

The sources said authorities at least believe that unreleased information includes details on data collection by English-speaking US allies, including the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

One source said the US government is “overwhelmed” by the possible depth of information Snowden had access to as a contractor for Booz Allen Hamilton. The other source highlighted the NSA’s lack of sound auditing capabilities as a source of frustration in understanding the full extent of data that Snowden - and media outlets he has leaked to - have in their possession.

The report said attempts for comment with the NSA and the office of the Director of National Intelligence went unanswered.

Snowden left his home in Hawaii for Hong Kong in May. In early June, the Guardian and the Washington Post began a series of stories detailing a massive, unruly surveillance apparatus at the NSA being used to track both foreign and domestic communications. Snowden has been charged with espionage by the US and was granted temporary asylum in Russia.

David Miranda, partner of Guardian reporter on the NSA stories Glenn Greenwald, was detained for nine hours by UK officials on Sunday, on the basis of an anti-terror statute. Miranda had left Berlin upon meeting with documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras, who has helped report Snowden’s leaks. Miranda was reportedly carrying a thumb drive containing Snowden-related material. UK authorities seized the drive and other computer hardware. Miranda says he plans to file legal action against British authorities soon.