The Intercept: Emails Contradict Administration Claims on Guardian Laptop Destruction

Not only did the Obama administration know that the U.K. government was going to force The Guardian newspaper to destroy their computers used to report the Edward Snowden leaks, but they overtly celebrated it.

Emails just obtained by Associated Press pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act request (FOIA) show senior Obama national security officials, including Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and then-NSA chief Keith Alexander.

According to Glenn Greenwald at The Intercept, one email, dated July 19 (the day prior to the destruction) has the subject line “Guardian data being destroyed” and is from NSA deputy director Richard Ledgett to Alexander. He wrote: “Good news, at least on this front.” The next day, almost immediately after the computers were destroyed, Alexander emailed Ledgett: ”Can you confirm this actually occurred?” Hours later, under the same subject line, Clapper emailed Alexander, saying: “Thanks Keith … appreciate the conversation today.”

In a statement to the Associated Press, the Guardian said it was disappointed to learn that “cross-Atlantic conversations were taking place at the very highest levels of government ahead of the bizarre destruction of journalistic material that took place in the Guardian’s basement last July.”

“What’s perhaps most concerning is that the disclosure of these emails appears to contradict the White House’s comments about these events last year, when they questioned the appropriateness of the U.K. government’s intervention,” the newspaper said.

Responding to threats from the British government in July 2013, The Guardian newspaper destroyed the data approximately a month after it and other media first published leaked documents from Snowden.

After news of the Guardian incident broke the following month, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said it would be “very difficult to imagine a scenario in which that would be appropriate.” He had been asked whether the U.S. would ever order the destruction of a U.S. media company’s computer data.