Ex-Blair adviser says NSA leaks aren't very damaging

Nov. 18, 2013 at 2:17 PM   |   Comments

LONDON, Nov. 18 (UPI) -- Britain's former lord chancellor said he's skeptical of whether the Edward Snowden leaks have caused the kind of damage intelligence leaders claim.

Lord Charles Falconer, a Labour party member and adviser to former Prime Minister Tony Blair, said claims by British leaders that the Snowden leaks have caused serious damage are largely overblown because a bulk of the information that's been released was already readily available to some 850,000 people who have security clearance. Given that large number, the Guardian reported, Falconer said the expectation the information would remain "secret" was unrealistic.

"It seems to me to be inconceivable that the intelligence agencies in the U.S. and the U.K. were not aware that it would not be possible to keep secret these sorts of broad issues for any length of time," Falconer said. "If the position was that the U.S.A. and the U.K. were intending to keep the general points I have been talking about secret, then that seemed to me to be a very unrealistic position."

Snowden is the U.S. security contractor whose revelations to the Guardian and New York Times about data collection by the U.S. National Security Agency have prompted international outrage regarding the nation's spying efforts.

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