NSA Chief: Snowden Got Access To Top Secret Court Order During Training

One question many had been asking since Edward Snowden came forward as the source of recently leaked National Security Agency documents was just how someone in Snowden’s position got access to an order issued by the highly secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.The order, requiring a Verizon subsidiary, Verizon Business Network Services, to turn over the metadata about calls made by all its subscribers over a three-month period, was top secret, and had no relevance to Snowden’s job as an IT system’s administrator working for an NSA contractor.

Well, we now have an answer. He had access to the order when he was being trained.

After a House Intelligence Committee hearing on Tuesday, National Security Agency Director Keith Alexander told reporters that Snowden had access to the document during an orientation he attended at NSA headquarters in Maryland.

“The FISA warrant was on a web server that he had access to as an analyst coming into the Threat Operations Center,” Alexander said, according to Politico. “It was in a special classified section that as he was getting his training he went to.”

Alexander apparently did not say precisely when that orientation took place. Snowden had been a employee of Booz Allen Hamilton for less than three months before he flew to Hong Kong last month.

During the hearing on Tuesday, Alexander told members of Congress that he did not believe Snowden ever had access to the records Verizon turned over as a result of the order.

“That’s in an exceptionally controlled area,” Snowden said. “You would have to have specific certificates to get into that. I’m not aware that he, Snowden, had any access to that.”